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Posted at 10:49 AM ET, 12/22/2010

Did the tax deal help Obama among independents?

By Ezra Klein

Not according to Gallup:


If anything, he looks to have lost some ground among self-described independents. He's also lost about eight points among liberals in recent months, though gained about as much among moderate Republicans. That may not be a good trade-off, however, as there are probably more votes for the White House among enthused liberals than among slightly-less-angry moderate Republicans.

Overall, Obama's approval rating is holding steady at 46 percent.

By Ezra Klein  | December 22, 2010; 10:49 AM ET
Categories:  Polls  
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Spot on, Ezra, and thanks for highlighting this poll. I hope the White House pays attention, as the President needs to be veeeeeery careful with his triangulation. A full-on centrism will make Broder and Brooks swoon but will lose chunks of the base he'll need in '12. And if he pushes for SS and Medicaid cuts in SOTU, then the non-African-American Dems will cut bait for real.

Posted by: scarlota | December 22, 2010 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Interesting... Jon Chait draws the exact opposite conclusion from the Gallup data, though I think both of you have a case:

Posted by: BlueFox28 | December 22, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

He seems to have lost more among "pure" independents than among liberal Democrats. What's that all about? Certainly looks like his strategy is backfiring bigtime.

There is just no substitute for a clear plan for the economy. Obama seems to remain totally clueless on that.

Posted by: jtmiller42 | December 22, 2010 11:39 AM | Report abuse

If the President's approval rating could be traded like futures, I'd buy calls with both hands. He's at 46% with only 80% approval from his own party...a number that will rise like self-rising flour when the opposition takes control of the House and starts trying to lynch this administration.

Posted by: zeppelin003 | December 22, 2010 11:39 AM | Report abuse

really nice choice of words there zeppelin.

Again can we let the ink dry on the Obama Tax Cut/Deficit increasing bill before we start talking about the significance of a couple of polls.

note i made the same argument when Ezra spoke of the demise of Chris Christie so fair is fair. If it was silly to make conclusions then its silly now.

Posted by: visionbrkr | December 22, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Conservative favorability improvements wont help Obama get elected.

Sounds to me like his re-election chances are crumbling.

I know I won't be voting for him, even if he wins the nomination and Palin is his opponent.

I'm done with voting, but now I've just got to ween myself off these stupid blogs.

Posted by: lauren2010 | December 22, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

This is a song about taxes
Sales, income, property
What are the rest?

Before we sing about taxes
What's the difference in a tax and a fee
I guess it does not really matter
When it is Government and your money

They want to tax your car
Want to tax your gas
Want to tax your utilities
Phone, internet, cable and electricity

They want to tax you when you come
Want to tax you when you go
Want to tax you when the sun's shining
Raining or in the snow

This is a song about taxes
City, county, state
And the federal government with a changing rate

They want to tax your drivers license
Want to tax your license plate
Want to tax your airline ticket at every airport gate

They want to tax you when you hunt
Want to tax you when you fish
They want to tax you anyway they can
Ain't that a _itch
Taxing situation
What would the Founding Fathers say

Your in a taxing situation
Have another tea party

They want to tax the cigarettes
Want to tax the booze
Even want to tax my water and food

This is a song about taxes
Impuestos in Espanol
Sabes mi amigo

They want to tax your house
Want to tax your land
Even want to tax your building plans

they've got
import, export, excise
inheritance, luxury
its all about
from people like you and me.

This is song about taxes
What would the Founding Fathers say
Your in a taxing situation
Have another tea party

This is a song about taxes
Just what do you get?
More over-dressed, over-paid

This is a song about taxes
Just what do you get?
More police officers
To write you more tickets

This is a song about taxes
Just what do you get?
I'll tell you one that you don't
Guareenteed health benefits

This is a song about taxes
Just what do you get?
If you do not pay them on time
Your going to get interest

They want to tax you when you travel
Hotel, motel tax
They want to tax on a toll road
And to park in a parking ramp

This is a song about taxes
Going to be a part two song
Send your comments to

This is a song about taxes
And they even want to tax my dog.

Posted by: OutOfState | December 22, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

watching the moderates/Republican/independents vote for Obama is the trick here.

come election time, only Republicans and blacks will vote for their parties. non republican whites have no one to vote for.

Posted by: Beleck31 | December 22, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Chait wrote today:

"Second, I don't doubt that Obama will be able to firm up the left by November 2012."

I'm not so sure (at not substantially less firm than it could have been), especially if he seriously hurts Social Security?

A lot of the solid left tends to stay home if they get disgruntled, or don't get the heebie-jeebies from a candidate. It's terrible that they don't think more about the harm that they do from this, and that what will actually happen to millions is more important than whether the Democratic candidate gives you the inspirational heebie-jeebies, but unfortunately there's a lot of voters that behave this way.

Meanwhile, the center tends to vote so much on the economy anyway, I don't know if this "approval" much matters. It's how the economy is in 2012, and this $800 billion in new tax cuts -- a huge cost -- is projected in return to do very little if anything for the economy. It makes it LOOK like he's trying, but how much do voters really care about trying, rather than how good the economy actually is at election time and how much it's improving. At least at election time if deficit projections are falling like a stone, that could give them a better FEELING about the economic future -- Now that's gone in exchange for just very tiny or no improvement in unemployment in 2012. Plus, the Fed may now be a lot less motivated to loosen, with this new profligate consumption rather than governemnt investment spending.

Posted by: RichardHSerlin | December 22, 2010 12:55 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure the approval matters much, particularly at the moment. Two years from now, a handful of voters in a handful of states (Florida, for example) will make a huge difference: this small group needs to "approve" of the President and he really need not worry much about the "base" which voted for him in the past.

As the Pelosi Party continues to dwindle, the approval rating given by that party matters less and less, while the approval rating given by mainstream (non-Pelosian) Democrats, Republicans, and independents matters more and more. I don't see much hope of unifying the elitist and mainstream factions of the Democrat's base, so the best course of action seems to be to court and develop the faction whose members are located in areas most necessary to re-election. The President must win Florida to be re-elected.

Posted by: rmgregory | December 22, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse


And this is potentially very important.

If Obama hadn't have done this tax deal, then taxes would have gone up.

Then, when the economy is still very bad in 2012, as it probably will be anyway, the Republicans can scream:

1) You raised taxes and made it bad, and prevented recovery

2) Your stimulus failed. (All) Government spending fails; it just explodes the deficit and sinks the economy. Liberalism fails. Vote Republican.

Now, regarding (2), Obama can now, with this tax cut deal, say, it's not that all government spending is bad and fails, we tried it your way too! We tried $800 billion in tax cuts, and another $300 million before that (in the first stimulus) – over $1 trillion in tax cuts in total! We tried it your way, to the tune of over one trillion! It's just that there wasn't enough stimulus of either kind, or enough time, for an economy of our size to recover from this kind of financial crisis completely, and now we have to...

If we didn't have the big tax cut deal and taxes went up, (2) could have been powerful (as well as (1)), and could have been enough to swing the election to Palin, or some other Republican. And any Republican would be devastating to the country and would mean trillions more in tax cuts for the rich, more corrupt judges who think corporations are people, etc, etc., etc.

$800 billion might have been well worth paying for substantially lowering the odds of this.

We've seen you have to be careful of underestimating Obama. He's very smart, and he did get us a universal health insurance bill after a century of failed attempts. Obama has certainly done some suboptimal things, but he is very patient and strategic, and those things can be very powerful as we may see in a second Obama term.

Posted by: RichardHSerlin | December 22, 2010 8:44 PM | Report abuse

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