Last night, I wondered if the president’s approval numbers enjoyed a slight uptick in recent weeks (while his disapproval is on the decline) because his unpopular health care overhaul is no longer on the front page.
And today I learned that Tom Jensen at the Democratic Party-affiliated Public Policy polling, whose latest poll reflect that trend, seems to share my views:
Obama’s numbers saw a significant downward trend during the health care debate and with that issue in the rear view mirror he seems to be regaining at least a little bit of his support across party lines. It’s not that voters have changed their minds on the bill- the 49/43 spread against it now is nearly identical to the 49/45 spread against it right before the vote was taken. But it no longer seems to be near the top of voters’ minds when evaluating Obama and his numbers do finally seem to be seeing some improvement as a result.
I think the president’s been helped by a media which do not devote as much attention to his Administration’s stumbles and scandals as they would if he were a Republican. The media hyped federal blunders in the aftermath of Katrina while downplaying those after the oil spill. They have all put ignored ties between tie between these Administration and BP, not investigating the exemption the Administration granted this Obama campaign contributor to the extent they would if a Republican Administration had reacted similarly to a campaign contributor.
Nor are we likely to see much investigation of the huge pay increases Labor Secretary Hilda Solis gave to her staffers when they moved from Capitol Hill to the Labor Department.
Without the relentless negative coverage the media would give to a Republican executive similarly situated, the American people move to their default reaction toward the president: they generally approve of his policies because they want him to succeed.
So, expect the president’s approval to hover around 50% for a while unless he introduces another unpopular initiative. Or if the nascent recovery fades as some economists (and bloggers) warn.