The Good News In The Polls

While recent polls do have been bad for those of us who care about preserving rationality and support for the principles this country was founded upon beyond the 2012 election, there has actually been some good news for Obama, if he can capitalize on it. Ben Smith points out that voters do like Obama:

Obama receives particularly low marks for his economic stewardship, with only 39 percent saying they approve and 59 percent saying they disapprove.
And yet, in a seeming contradiction, voters still really like Obama.

Putting aside how they feel about his job performance, 74 percent of voters said they either strongly or somewhat approve of Obama as a person, his highest rating in the past year. His solid personal popularity remains a source of pride — and hope — for top advisers who spent 2008 trying to get voters to identify with Obama, an African-American with roots in Hawaii, Indonesia and Chicago.

I would not downplay either the benefits of being liked by voters or the risks of being an incumbent when the economy is not doing well, even if it is the opposing party’s ideas which have created and prolonged this mess. There is some good news in the polls even 0n the economy. Many times in the past we have seen Republicans lead in polls despite voters preferring Democratic policies. We are seeing a phenomenon along these lines as voters in the same poll are expressing dissatisfaction over Obama on the economy while supporting his actual polices. Greg Sargent writes:

Here’s a striking disconnect that speaks volumes about Obama’s political problem right now: In the new NBC/WSJ poll, Americans express strong disapproval of Obama’s performance on the economy, and express low confidence that Obama has the right set of ideas to improve it.

And then, later in the very same poll, Americans are asked whether they support a range of Obama’s actual fiscal and economic policies. In every case, a majority or plurality supports them.

It’s true. The poll finds that only 37 percent approve of Obama’s handling of the economy, versus 59 percent who disapprove. It also finds that only 31 percent are “extremely confident” or “quite confident” that the President has the right goals and policies to improve the economy, versus a whopping 68 percent who are only somewhat or not at all confident.

But then the pollsters ask about the policies themselves. And here’s what they find:

— A solid majority (60 percent) supports reducing the deficit by ending the Bush tax cuts for the rich.

— A solid majority (56 percent) supports reducing the deficit through a combination of tax increases and spending cuts.

— Only 37 percent support the GOP’s solution to the deficit, i.e., reducing it only through spending cuts with no tax hikes on the rich or corporations.

— A plurality supports a federally funded roads construction bill to create jobs, 47-26, which is similar to what Obama is expected to propose in his jobs speech.

— A plurality supports continuing to extend unemployment benefits, 44-39.

— A plurality supports an extension of the payroll tax cut, 40-20.

As Steve Benen notes, this bodes well for public acceptance of Obama’s jobs speech on Thursday. After all, it would appear possible that disapproval of Obama on the economy is a referendum on the actual state of the economy, rather than on Obama’s suggested current policies for fixing it. While it’s true that the public remains skeptical of Obama’s number one solution to the economy — the stimulus — the public is clearly receptive to the current, unimplemented solutions Obama is championing, even though the same public generally disapproves of Obama’s economic performance.

This both suggests that Obama might be able to withstand a poor economy and outlines what Obama must do, not only on Thursday, but over the next fourteen months. Obama must make it clear to voters that the policies he supports are those which they have indicated they want, as well as demonstrating that Republican policies would again be disastrous for the country. A president who is liked, as the polls indicate Obama is, should have a much better shot of making this case. The mindset of the voters might better be seen not in Obama’s current poll numbers, but in the poll numbers of his opponents, including rapidly growing public distaste for the ideas of the so-called Tea Party. This is a battle of ideas which Obama still stands a reasonable chance of winning.

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4 Comments

  1. 1
    John Billar says:

    The Good News In The Polls For Obama, Including on Economic Policy #p2 #p21 #topprog http://t.co/uPEPdg4

  2. 2
    Sherrielle Monroe says:

    The Good News In The Polls For Obama, Including on Economic Policy #p2 #p21 #topprog http://t.co/uPEPdg4

  3. 3
    good says:

    The Good News In The Polls Liberal Values http://t.co/HGfdqpf

  4. 4
    John Sonntag says:

    RT @ronchusid: The Good News In The Polls #p2 #p21 #topprog http://t.co/uGt04RT Some good news for Obama.

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