Back before the New Year when the president’s approval rating languished in the low 40s, I always assumed that he might be in decent shape (for reelection) even if his approval rating didn’t quite reach 50%. I based this assumption on conversations with liberals who grumble about his performance in office, yet rush to defend him when the subject of his reelection comes up.
They may not approve of his job performance, but come November, they’ll rally to his cause.
He would, I contended, poll better in match-ups against a Republican than he does in polls on his job performance. So, I was stunned earlier this week to see a New York Times/CBS News poll, which tends to lean left, pegging the president’s “job rating at exactly 50 percent“, but showing him with a lesser tally when matched up against the various Republicans running against him. Against Mitt Romney, he drew only 48% of the vote, one point higher when facing off against Rick Santorum.
One explanation for this phenomenon could be that, in the past seven weeks, with the media focus on the Republican contest, the president has been gradually winning back his base. My liberal Facebook friends have expressed delight at his recess appointments and the contraception mandate, with several seeing such moves as evidence he’s finally fighting for the principles they share.
Even as the president’s current poll numbers nationally look better than they did last fall, with him running slightly ahead of the leading Republican contenders, some state polls show him in trouble. A recent poll in Iowa, a state which George W. Bush lost narrowly in 2000, won narrowly in 2004 and which Obama won by nearly 10 points 4 years ago, shows Obama running between three of the four remaining Republican candidates, running ahead only of Newt Gingrich.
A recent survey of Washington State voters showed Obama with an approval rating of only 42 (with 47% disapproving). Ed Morrissey reminds us that the Democrat “won the state of Washington by seventeen points in 2008, and it is a bastion of Democratic strength and enthusiasm”:
Obama’s job approval among Democrats and Republicans are perfect mirror images — 85/11 and 11/85, respectively. Among independents, though, he gets only a 37/47. Among Hispanics (8% of respondents), Obama gets a 40/24 — a very weak rating — and among Asians and other ethnicities (excluding whites, blacks, and Hispanics) comprising 11% of the respondents, it’s 42/49.
Not sure what to make of this, but it does seem that the president’s internal polls must show something similar to what we’re seeing in these states — else he wouldn’t be dispatching his cabinet members to help Democratic “Super PACs” shake down his supporters.