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The turning point on Obama's popularity

Do Tuesday’s Republican victories in New Jersey and Virginia reflect rising voter disaffection toward President Obama? Experts will debate that endlessly over the coming days. Over at tnr.com, John Judis answers a tentative “yes,” at least with respect to Virginia. His evidence: “If you look at the graphs that pollster.com puts up that average out the polling findings, you find that towards the end of July, or in early August, the margin between Deeds and McDonnell jumped, and remained high for the rest of the election. At the very same time, Obama’s approval numbers in Virginia plummeted, and except for some outlier polls, have remained below fifty percent.”

That got me thinking: what happened in late July to hurt Obama’s approval rating -- not just in Virginia, but nationally? Well, lots, of course. The health-care debate was heating up. Unemployment had reached well above 9 percent. And then there was Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates’ racially-tinged clash with a Cambridge, Massachusetts police officer. Obama treated the tiff as a teachable moment for the whole nation, rather than the local misunderstanding it probably was. On national television, he opined that the cops acted “stupidly” in arresting Gates at his home. Agree with it or not, this comment played very badly, and the president spent a week repairing the damage instead of staying on his health care message.

“Barack Obama’s approval ratings have suffered major declines. The president’s overall job approval number fell from 61% in mid-June to 54% currently,” the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press reported on July 30. “Obama’s comments on the arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr. appear to have played some role in his ratings decline,” Pew noted. Almost 80 percent of the public had heard about the president’s comments, and those with an opinion disapproved, by a 41 to 29 percent margin. Whites were down on Obama’s handling of the flap by about two-to-one.

As the first black president in American history, Obama has struck a careful balance, substantively and politically, on issues related to race. Siding with Gates and criticizing the police, in a case about which he admitted incomplete knowledge, was the president’s first and, as far as I can tell, only misstep. The polls say he paid for it; maybe he still is.

By Charles Lane  | November 5, 2009; 3:31 PM ET
Categories:  Lane  | Tags:  Charles Lane  
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Comments

i'm a white southerner, over 50 years old, a former federal agent, a former prosecutor, and self identify myself as 'conservative.' by every indication the media and pollsters use, i should be well entrenched in the group disaffected by obama's comments on the gates case.

i'm not. i read the reported facts and i concur with the president. the officer acted stupidly.

Posted by: jimfilyaw | November 5, 2009 4:47 PM | Report abuse


I don't think crabby people like anybody.

I love our President, and I believe he is doing all the right things.

The Police Officer did act stupidly, and gave no comfort to people who feel like their home is the one place they can truly be free.

If a Police Officer can go onto anyone's porch and arrest them for being pissed off, they're going to need a lot more jails if they're going to arrest them all.

Posted by: lindalovejones | November 5, 2009 5:05 PM | Report abuse

Carry on, Jim, carry on!

Posted by: JohnDinHouston | November 5, 2009 5:07 PM | Report abuse

BULL CRAP


"The Police Officer did act stupidly, and gave no comfort to people who feel like their home is the one place they can truly be free."

Even John Gotti did what cops told him to do. Every mob guy knows that -- cops pull you over, shut the F up.

All the officer wanted was Skipper to dial it down 35 db.

Skipper didn't. So, the cuffs came out.

And is it FASCINATING that ol' Skipper AIN'T SUING the cop?

Because Ol' Skip knows he was a JERK.

As for the alleged white male poster -- do not believe you for one second, being white.

Posted by: russpoter | November 5, 2009 5:17 PM | Report abuse

this is the silliest explanation i have ever read.

Posted by: tadtef | November 5, 2009 5:22 PM | Report abuse


Now that we know who Obama really is and he is clearly not the man he claimed to be in his campaign... He will go down as a dishonest Jimmy Carter, one term failed Presidency.

It's too bad he has to tarnish Jimmy Carter's name so. At least the former President Carter didn't lie to everybody, he was just seriously too liberal to have any economic sense or international relations understanding.

Obama knows what he is doing and is purposely using deceit to advance his Marxist agenda!

He will get his due in the next life.

Posted by: Obama_TRAITOR_in_Chief | November 5, 2009 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Maybe this election result had something to do with actual candidates in the race and the fact that Deeds was one of the lousiest Democratic candidates in a long time at any leve.

Posted by: jbentley4 | November 5, 2009 5:46 PM | Report abuse

Reason popularity decreased-

continued depression
no real change in many general policies aiding the corporations

he ran a campaign based on rhetoric thin enough/vague enough that everyone thought that he was speaking to them, that he agreed with their policies. So the left (of which I am part) are disappointed by the lack of ambitious social, economic and global policy changes. The middle feels betrayed that he is being as ambitious as he is (in my mind he is not doing enough- but for some a little shift is an earthquake. The right wing was always going to attack him, look how they treated Clinton before- accusations of murder, etc. they have gained traction due to bad conditions out there and staying on a simple emotionally driven message.

Posted by: NYClefty | November 5, 2009 5:46 PM | Report abuse

Referring to the repeated claim by Obama haters that he is Markist and has a Markist agenda --I find it interesting that no one ever asks give us an example--they never do, they just repeat and repeat the same old refrain and too many nice but uniformed people take it for gospel--they say it, so it must be so. They also repeat the claim that what he is doing is unconstitutional--again, no examples and not one of the tv pundits or columnists every seems to ask--how? I hereby quote in the beginning of the preamble to the Constitution of the US. Establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our Posterity. Is not health care part of the general Welfare, and should not the government see that sick people are treated or have the means to do so as have people in every industrialized nation in the world.

Also in the Declaration of Independence it says We hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are LIFE (Caps are mine) liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Going further and speaking of George III--in this case Republicans--He (they) has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance (filibusters?) unless suspended in their operation til his (theirs) assent shall be obtained, and when so suspended has utterly neglected to attend to them.

Yet, time and time again, day after day, the extreme right wing of the Republican party puts forth the view that they are saving Americans from loss of liberty when in truth it is they who are violating the Constitution and ignoring the Declaration of Independence. I would like to see TV commentators, newspaper columnists, and others talk about the Constitution and what it means and ask HOW of these loss of liberty fearmongers.

Posted by: jeand1 | November 5, 2009 6:25 PM | Report abuse

FDR went up and down. So did Clinton. All the matters is 2012 for Obama.

Posted by: Matthew_DC | November 5, 2009 7:04 PM | Report abuse

jeand1 wrote:
Referring to the repeated claim by Obama haters that he is Markist and has a Markist agenda --I find it interesting that no one ever asks give us an example--they never do,
--------------------------------------------

30% of the private economy is now under the control of the Federal Government. The Health Care Bill in the House will take another 18% of the economy and place it under government control...bringing the total to near 50%. The States are beholden now for Federal funds in a way that it's hard to call it anything but dependence. This coalescence of power under the Federal wing, combined with dramatic increases in taxes (under the guise of fees and fines in the Health Care Bill) amounts to a Marxist approach to government. The mandate that you MUST have health insurance is unconstitutional and an affront to personal liberties and freedom. That's Marxist.

The complete list is fairly long.

Posted by: PS7900 | November 5, 2009 7:10 PM | Report abuse

Obama insulted the entire Cambridge police department. He did not say the officer acted "stupidly"; he said the "Cambridge Police Department acted 'stupidly.'"

That was a reckless and thoughtless statement; it was also incorrect.

Posted by: turner1 | November 5, 2009 7:13 PM | Report abuse

The fact that Democrats won two open Congressional seats outweighs the two Governor's seats.

Posted by: dougharty | November 5, 2009 8:08 PM | Report abuse

GET A CLUE


Pal, my family had its land STOLEN by MARXISTS.

I know MARXISTS and MESSIAH is a MARXIST-DUPE.

GRAB, GRAB, STEAL, STEAL -- until there is no more private property.

Your kind is convincing me. Why bother working, when MESSIAH will just give me WELFARE like ACORN?

USA is doomed, thanks to MESSIAH-WELFARE.

---------------

Referring to the repeated claim by Obama haters that he is Markist and has a Markist agenda --I find it interesting that no one ever asks give us an example--they never do, they just repeat and repeat the same old refrain and too many nice but uniformed people take it for gospel--they say it, so it must be so.

Posted by: russpoter | November 5, 2009 8:48 PM | Report abuse

"The mandate that you MUST have health insurance is unconstitutional and an affront to personal liberties and freedom. That's Marxist."

I am a Conservative Democrat, and I agree
wholeheartedly with this comment. I think
it is about time we do away with that silly
idea/law that mandates we must insure every
other driver on the road as well. After all, mandated liability insurance is designed to protect every person on the
road, except the person paying for it.
Just how "Marxist" is that...

Posted by: confido666 | November 5, 2009 8:49 PM | Report abuse

WRONG


If you don't own a car -- you are not FORCED by MEAN-FACED, SHORT-HAIRED BUREAUCRATS to buy auto insurance.

Stupidest part of all this -- idiotic comparisons ("Japan Med can work in USA"). Just STUPID.

-----------

I am a Conservative Democrat, and I agree
wholeheartedly with this comment. I think
it is about time we do away with that silly
idea/law that mandates we must insure every
other driver on the road as well. After all, mandated liability insurance is designed to protect every person on the
road, except the person paying for it.
Just how "Marxist" is that...

Posted by: russpoter | November 5, 2009 9:20 PM | Report abuse

Yes - siding with Gates unilaterally without the full story was a mis-step.

But really I am more disaffected by economic policies that have not helped me and I am worried about his ambivalence in Afghanistan.

I cringe when he rants against Wall Street and Health Insurances when Americans incurred their own unafforadable debts and the government is the largest health insurer in the country.

Basically his rhetoric that fired me up now makes my blood run cold.

Posted by: mgd1 | November 5, 2009 9:42 PM | Report abuse

Please. This stuff borders on silliness. Really, aren't you just a tad embarrassed about writing such shallow drivel?

Posted by: Genefox1 | November 5, 2009 10:11 PM | Report abuse

Yes, the election was a turning point increasing the popularity of Obama's middle of the road message. All of the conservatives lost and all of the moderates won - no matter the party.

Posted by: chucky-el | November 5, 2009 10:42 PM | Report abuse

RE: The comment related to the Gates incident was Obama's 'first and only misstep?' -- did Mr. Lane come out and then slip back into a coma at that point? The hope and change ether must have done the job on his perception of reality.

Posted by: surfbum | November 5, 2009 11:15 PM | Report abuse

uh Mr. Lane, get a life. Who are you anyway?

Posted by: wkristol | November 5, 2009 11:16 PM | Report abuse

Obama has shown no leadership. He's continued to vote "present," turning over all responsibility for his legislative agenda to his aides and to Pelosi and Reid while he jets around the country and the world to give speeches and pose for photos. He's apparently improving his golf handicap when he's off teleprompter. Meanwhile, he evinces no concern for the many Americans who are jobless and homeless.

Posted by: judithod | November 5, 2009 11:35 PM | Report abuse

of course there is a turning point with barack "the chosen one" obama.

he doesn't do anything.

if i was on the job for 10 months and had nothing to show for my time, i would be FIRED.

he's lucky that isn't in the constitution.

hey obama? why don't you get those teleprompters fired up, and actually DO SOMETHING for a change.

saaaaay.. let's start with AFGHANISTAN, you friggin tall scrawny pen*s head!

Posted by: AuthoritativeAuthoritarian | November 5, 2009 11:35 PM | Report abuse

There is obviously disillusionment among some of those who supported Barack Obama, the candidate for president. Except for most partisan Democrats and some of his fellow wishy-washy "moderates," many people are disappointed in the contrast between Obama's bold, visionary, campaign rhetoric and the mostly cautious, tepid "leadership" he has shown as president.

Many people actually believe candidates should keep their campaign promises and many thought Obama would be one of the atypical exceptions who would do so. However, he has not adhered to his campaign rhetoric on a host of issues, including curbing the influence of special interest groups, the individual health care mandate, greater transparency of government procedures, upholding the rule of law and reversing some of the Bush-Cheney excesses.

As to his declining popularity, this will vary as has happened to all presidents. Some of the decline has to do with the recession and continued high unemployment. Obama seems, as of now, despite his declining poll numbers, to be easily re-elected, primarily because of weak potential Republican opponents.

Posted by: Aprogressiveindependent | November 6, 2009 12:00 AM | Report abuse

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