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Posted at 10:18 AM ET, 12/17/2010

Obama brand remains surprisingly strong

By Ezra Klein

Some interesting -- and unexpected -- results in The Washington Post's big post-election poll. First, Obama's position against the Republicans in Congress is much stronger than that of his predecessors. The following polls were all taken in the December after the president's first major midterm defeat. So for Bill Clinton, the poll results are from December 1994, and for George W. Bush, they're from December 2006. In both cases, the public trusted the congressional opposition more than the president. Not so today:

firstmidtermpoll.jpg

That's reflected in a later question that genuinely surprised me: Asked whether Obama and the Republicans were sincere in their desire to reduce the budget deficit, Obama beat the Republicans by a wide margin:

deficitsincere.png

There's been a lot of criticism of Obama's communication skills lately, but if you look at the polls, he's doing a far better job than his predecessors did preserving his brand within an unfriendly political environment. Part of this might just be that the election results were driven by enthusiasm among Republican-leaning constituencies and relative apathy among Democratic-leaning groups, while the polls are getting at a broader cross-section of the country. But whatever the explanation, there appears to be more life in the Obama brand than the pundits might think, and than the Republicans might hope.

By Ezra Klein  | December 17, 2010; 10:18 AM ET
Categories:  Polls  
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Comments

hurray!!!!!
many of his loyal supporters have always known the truth of this, and this confirming poll is reaffirming music to our ears.
despite the din and yapping of the madding crowd, there are millions of us, that see what a brilliant, wise, mindful, compassionate and skillful president he is, and what incredible chaos he wades through each day. we respect his courage and his self-restraint and calm leadership.
to watch boehner weeping everyday, when i go through my days and try to hold myself together for the sake of those around me, and have journalists finding it "endearing,"and to listen to nora ephron pontificating wildly last night, that "obama doesnt like being president." it is so deeply disturbing to those of us to see the inner grace and integrity of our president. how sad that anyone would say, he doesnt like being president, as ephron did last night...."because he doesnt get out and press the flesh, and gladhand like his offensive predecessors" and resort to behaviors that demean the solemnity of his office.
how he and michelle obama are able to rise above all of this vapid chatter, is a miracle and a lesson for all of us. his family is a model of grace, under fire. all of them
the economy will improve....and president obama will prevail....he does walk through the narrow gate...and he remains a deeply beloved and deeply appreciated and profoundly admired president.
happy holidays to president obama and to the first lady, and to their beautiful daughters.
their courage and grace as a family, inspires so many of us, beyond words.
may the wind be at the back of the president in this coming year, and may his good works and wisdom, be appreciated and recorded.
and may this nice piece of news, add greatly to his holiday cheer!

Posted by: jkaren | December 17, 2010 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Whether we like to admit it or not, the Obama brand, from the outset, was predicated not on a set of specific policies but on a set of operational principles and character traits: eschewing rigid ideological postures, reasonableness, calmness. It began with the assertion that there were no red states and blue states, and was transformed in the election season into a pragmatic goal of "making Washington work" and finding commonalities in order to move the nation forward. To that extent, and as especially viewed through the lens of the recent tax compromise, he has hewed to that brand. He is outpolling the Republicans the country (bizarrely) picked because he has held steadfast in those characteristics, to the dismay of both the right and the left. We've perhaps never seen a politician like this. I find it fascinating.

Posted by: JJenkins2 | December 17, 2010 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Well, that's not the case around my house. Everyone I talk to - my dog, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Dave Ramsey, and even that raving liberal Mara Liaisson know that Obama is sinking like a fascist Kenyan rock.

Posted by: willows1 | December 17, 2010 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Bear in mind that as the midterms and even the '09 gubernatorial races in New Jersey and Virginia revealed, the strength of the brand does not necessarily translate to the ballot box. Lincoln Chafee lost his Senate race in '08 with a 60-something approval rating, and Mike Bloomberg came within a whisker of losing a third term with a number in the 50s.

Obama has a lot of work to do to stoke his base for '12. The repeal of DADT would be an excellent first step.

Posted by: scarlota | December 17, 2010 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Every other poll has Obama's approval at 45% or lower, EVERY OTHER POLL. I think it is safe to say that a poll showing Obama at 49% approval is an outlier. The left's ability to cherry pick the polls always fascinates me. Everyone else should go visit a site that posts multiple polls and you will get an idea of what I am talking about. There are at least seven polls in the last week in a half to show Obama at 45% or lower.

On a different note, the first two comments are two of the most nauseating examples of Obama worship I have ever read in my life, particularly the post from jkaren. I had to vomit after I read it.

Posted by: Bob65 | December 17, 2010 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Even if these numbers are true, are Obama supporters loyal enough to come out and vote? Volunteer? Man phone banks? Drive people to polling places?

I think the midterms show that even though most of America trusts Obama more than Republicans with power, the likely electorate doesn't agree.

In 2012, I hope Obama supporters actually get out and vote.

Posted by: will12 | December 17, 2010 11:31 AM | Report abuse

"On a different note, the first two comments are two of the most nauseating examples of Obama worship I have ever read in my life, particularly the post from jkaren. I had to vomit after I read it."


and wishing you, also, bob65....
merriment and bright spirits,
during this season,
of peace and goodwill:-)

Posted by: jkaren | December 17, 2010 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Bob65 - I agree completely. Obama draws such mindless support from his followers. No one even cares if he makes a huge blunder or shirks his duty or constantly changes his position. Somehow every time he fails, his supporters just chalk it up to media bias. It is truly disgusting for people follow ANYONE that blindly.

Posted by: willows1 | December 17, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Bob65, willows1 - oh yah, we liberals and Obama backers never criticize our Messiah or never roast him on coals....

What was that sound about Public Option, Capitulation on Tax Cuts and all that?

Oh, I see we Liberals are even more pussy cat than all that 'flock' which fell for Mission Accomplished on an aircraft carrier or the Commander in Chief landing in Marine One Helicopter in Florida... remember all those Pavlovian Conservative responses?

Well, anyways; arguments are with sane people. Just because Congressional Republicans also compromising does not mean many other Obama Haters would become rational.

So forget about that.

To Ezra - get the Politics Right, everything else will be taken care. Politico is right to lavish all this praise on Obama:
http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1210/46527.html

(That is the difference between EU and USA, on so many occasions American Politicians in the end come together... good for Americans.)

Posted by: umesh409 | December 17, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

It's not that Obama's brand is HIGHER it is that the Congressional brand is at an all time LOW. 13% approval rating at last measurement.

Posted by: georged1 | December 17, 2010 2:04 PM | Report abuse

I really hope Palin gets the Republican nod. Obama would win by 20 points.

Posted by: laugh_riot | December 17, 2010 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Hey Ezra, what's it like to be a shill for corrupt politicians?

Posted by: soma_king | December 17, 2010 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Just keep polling Harlem residents and the polls will tell the story that you want to hear.

Posted by: jhnjdy | December 17, 2010 6:44 PM | Report abuse

Hey 'jhnjdy' why do you want to deprive we Left Coaster from our loyalty to our Messiah? For your information, they never change color of Left, I mean West, Coast from Blue. Many times you feel as if they are showing Pacific till Colorado since it is so ingrained that Left Coast is Blue.

Next, remember times when 100+ Millions were affording Meg Whitman flights of fancy of Governorship of the Golden (ouch, bankrupt) State of California? I mean she had the company of 40+ Millions from Carly Fiorina to unseat Al Gore hair (or hearsay?) Boxer all year long of 2010.

While all this has been going Sharon decided to do favor on Nevadians and Nevada again fell for Dems. Don't even talk about Bennett and Colorado.

So you see is it just Harlem which is having Blues?

Posted by: umesh409 | December 17, 2010 9:38 PM | Report abuse

It seems kind of unproductive to crow about relative poll position in an environment with 10% unemployment and no clear strategy to fix it. It's been what, over a year since the recession officially ended? Yet most of the country is still operating under recession-like conditions and recession-like mentality. In that context, we're all going to be pissed off with our government.

Posted by: NS12345 | December 18, 2010 6:31 PM | Report abuse

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