Presidential Race Maps Writing on the Wall

Obama Approval Remains Steady at 61%

Posted Jun 30, 2009 at 2:05 AM by Maurice Berger

According to a new CNN/Opinion Research poll, President Obama's approval rating among Americans remains steady. 61% of people questioned say they approve of how Obama's handling his duties as president; 37% disapprove: "The 61% approval rating is down one point from May and down six points from February . . . The poll suggests when it comes to opinions of Obama, gender and generation gaps continue. Sixty-seven percent of women questioned in the survey approve of how Obama's handling his job as president. That number drops to 54 percent among men. Two-thirds of people under 50 years old questioned in the poll approve of the president's handling of his duties. That number drops to 54 percent among people over 50 years of age."

African Americans Say Race Relations No Better With Obama

Posted Jun 29, 2009 at 2:09 AM by Maurice Berger

A majority of African Americans believe that race relations have not improved with the election of President Obama, according to a new CNN/Essence/Opinion Research Corporation poll: "African-Americans really like President Obama, but more and more feel that race relations have not gotten better since he took office, a new national poll found. 96% of African-Americans approve of how Obama is handling his presidency . . . During the 2008 election, 38 percent of blacks surveyed thought racial discrimination was a serious problem. In the new survey, 55 percent of blacks surveyed believed it was a serious problem, which is about the same level as it was in 2000."

Americans Fear Stimulus Money Will Be Wasted

Posted Jun 26, 2009 at 1:15 AM by Maurice Berger

In another sign that Americans remain uneasy with the government's economic stimulus plan, a Rasmussen reports survey indicates that 76% of Americans say it is at least somewhat likely that a large amount of money in the $787-billion economic stimulus plan will be wasted due to inadequate government oversight. Nearly half (46%) say it is very likely, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. Only 18% say it is not likely that taxpayer money will be wasted. 65% of Republicans say it is very likely stimulus money will be wasted, a view shared by just 32% of Democrats and the plurality of adults (44%) not affiliated with either party"

Gallup: Economy Still Top Priority For Americans, But Less So

Posted Jun 25, 2009 at 1:39 AM by Maurice Berger

Americans continue to rank the economy as the most pressing issue facing the country, a new Gallup survey reports. But this number has actually dropped considerably from the beginning of 2009: "Two-thirds of Americans (65%), when asked in an open-ended fashion, continue to name economic problems as the most important problem facing the country -- but this number has steadily declined from 86% in February.Mentions of the economy in Gallup's June update on this question match the net total mentions from June of last year, prior to the global economic collapse. The "net percent mentioning economic problems" reflects the total percentage of respondents who cite some aspect of the economy as the nation's most important problem. The single most frequently mentioned concern more broadly -- a general reference to the economy -- is down from 47% in May to 41% now. Specific mentions of unemployment are steady at 14%." Here is the list in order of priority:


Americans Less Certain About Obama's Handling Of The Economy

Posted Jun 24, 2009 at 1:34 AM by Maurice Berger

A new poll out from ABC News/Washington Post suggests that while President Obama continues to hold a relatively high approval rating, voters are less approving of his handling of the economy, a possible future red flag: "President Obama remains on his honeymoon -- but with a hint of clouds over the beach. They signal economic impatience. A still-impressive 65% of Americans in this new ABC News/Washington Post poll approve of Obama's job performance. But there's been a retrenchment in the expectation that his stimulus plan will improve the economy -- and, consequently, a halt in what had been steadily improving views of the nation's direction. A narrow majority, 52%, now thinks Obama's stimulus program has helped or will help the nation's economy -- down from 59% in late April. While he's vulnerable elsewhere as well, it's the economy that's his make-or-break issue -- and his advantage over the Republicans in trust to handle it, while still broad, has narrowed from a record 37 points, 61%-24%, in April, to 24 points, 55%-31%, today"

Wide Public Support For Government-Run Health Insurance Program

Posted Jun 23, 2009 at 12:52 AM by Maurice Berger

There is wide support for government run health insurance, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll: "Americans overwhelmingly support substantial changes to the health care system and are strongly behind one of the most contentious proposals Congress is considering, a government-run insurance plan to compete with private insurers . . . The poll found that most Americans would be willing to pay higher taxes so everyone could have health insurance and that they said the government could do a better job of holding down health-care costs than the private sector . . . The national telephone survey, which was conducted from June 12 to 16, found that 72 percent of those questioned supported a government-administered insurance plan — something like Medicare for those under 65 — that would compete for customers with private insurers. Twenty percent said they were opposed.

Gallup: Obama Approval Slips To All-Time Low

Posted Jun 22, 2009 at 2:53 AM by Maurice Berger

President Obama's approval rating has fallen to 58% in Gallup Poll Daily tracking from June 16-18, "a new low for Obama . . . although not dissimilar to the 59% he has received on four other occasions. 33% of Americans now disapprove of the job Obama is doing as president, just one point shy of his record-high 34% disapproval score from early June. Since Obama took office in January, his approval rating in Gallup tracking has averaged 63%, and most of his three-day ratings have registered above 60%. Approval of Obama did fall to 59% in individual readings in February, March, April, and early June; however, in each case, the rating lasted only a day before rebounding to at least 60%. The latest decline in Obama's approval score, to 58%, results from a drop in approval among political independents as well as among Republicans. Democrats remain as highly supportive of the president as ever."

Congressional Generic Ballot Remains Tied

Posted Jun 19, 2009 at 1:33 AM by Maurice Berger

According to Rasmussen Reports, the Congressional Generic Ballot remains tied: "39% would vote for their district’s Democratic congressional candidate while 39% would choose the Republican. Support for both parties dropped one point from last week. Support for Democratic candidates is just one point above its low point for the past year. Support for the GOP is just two points below its highest level found over the same time period. Men favor the GOP by a five-point margin, while women prefer Democrats by the same margin." In what may be a red flag for the Democrats, voters not affiliated with either party favor the GOP 33% to 23%.

Americans Think President Obama Is Taking On Too Much

Posted Jun 18, 2009 at 2:36 AM by Maurice Berger

A majority of Americans believe that President Barack Obama is tackling too many difficult political and social issues at one, according to a Wall Street Journal/NBC News: "Nearly four in 10 Americans, 37%, believe President Barack Obama is taking on too many issues at one time, but even more Americans, 60%, believe the president is focused and taking on so many issues because the country has so many problems." The poll also suggests that Obama's overall approval rating may be slipping, a result disputed by several other polls and confirmed by several surveys: "His job approval rating now stands at 56%, down from 61% in April. Among independents, it dropped from nearly two-to-one approval to closely divided."

Conservatives Are The Largest Ideological Group

Posted Jun 17, 2009 at 1:41 AM by Maurice Berger

How do Americans rate themselves on the ideological spectrum. According to a new Gallup poll, those calling themselves "conservative" have a slight edge. Gallup writes: "Thus far in 2009, 40% of Americans interviewed . . . describe their political views as conservative, 35% as moderate, and 21% as liberal. This represents a slight increase for conservatism in the U.S. since 2008, returning it to a level last seen in 2004. The 21% calling themselves liberal is in line with findings throughout this decade, but is up from the 1990s."

Americans Remain Anxious About The Economy

Posted Jun 16, 2009 at 1:40 AM by Maurice Berger

While PollTrack may be stating the obvious, Americabs remain very pessimistic about the economy, though they attitudes have taken an upturn since January. Rasmussen Report's "Consumer Index, which measures the economic confidence of consumers on a daily basis, was up two points on Sunday to 71.8. The index is now down a point from a week ago and down three points from one month ago. However, today's index is up twelve points from its first reading of 2009 . . . Nationally, only 9% of adults rate the economy as good or excellent, while 57% disagree and say the economy is poor. 30% rate their personal finances as either good or excellent, while 24% rate their personal finances as poor"

Americans Back Confirmation Of Sotomayor

Posted Jun 15, 2009 at 2:28 AM by Maurice Berger

By a significant margin, Americans support the conformation of President Obama's nominee to the US Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor: By a margin of 46% to 32%, they support the confirmation of Sotomayor, according to a Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll. Another 22% were undecided. There is a big partisan divide on the question: Republicans do not support confirmation by a 55% to 19% margin; Democrats back her 69% to 12%. Significantly, independents are largely in favor of confirmation, supporting Sotomayor 46% to 33%.

Republicans Down On Their Party

Posted Jun 12, 2009 at 1:53 AM by Maurice Berger

A just released Gallup survey suggests that the GOP is in trouble . . . with members of its own party: "Almost 4 out of 10 (38%) Republicans and Republican-leaning independents have an unfavorable opinion of their own party, while just 7% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents have an unfavorable opinion of the Democratic Party . . . Among all Americans, the poll shows a 19-point advantage for the Democratic Party over the Republican Party when it comes to the two parties' respective favorable images -- a finding little changed from last November, when Gallup last updated the parties' images. Fifty-three percent of Americans today have a favorable opinion of the Democratic Party, compared to just 34% who have a favorable opinion of the Republican Party."

GOP: The White Party?

Posted Jun 11, 2009 at 1:50 AM by Maurice Berger

According to Gallup, the GOP is increasingly the party of white Americans: The survey reported that "more than 6 in 10 Republicans today are white conservatives, while most of the rest are whites with other ideological leanings; only 11% of Republicans are Hispanics, or are blacks or members of other races. By contrast, only 12% of Democrats are white conservatives, while about half are white moderates or liberals and a third are nonwhite. Gallup's analysis: 'Does the Republican Party in essence "stick to the knitting" and cling to its core conservative principles? Or should the Republicans make an effort to expand their base -- among whites who are moderate or less religious, and/or the various nonwhite groups who to this point are largely ignoring the Republican Party in favor of the Democrats? The decision the party makes in response to this question could be pivotal in helping determine its future.'"

Charlie Cook's Crystal Ball: Congressional Midterm Elections, 2010

Posted Jun 10, 2009 at 1:50 AM by Maurice Berger

The brilliant political analyst Charlie Cook--taking an early look at the electoral landscape for the 2010 congressional midterm election--predicts a split decision, "with Republicans picking up a few House seats but losing a Senate seat or two. The difference is that Democrats have the larger number of vulnerable House districts, while Senate Republicans have more seats that are in serious jeopardy."

Cook on the House: "Having gained 54 House seats over the past two elections, Democrats now represent 49 districts that GOP presidential nominee John McCain won last year. By comparison, Republicans represent 34 districts that Obama won. Simple arithmetic indicates that in the absence of overwhelming hostility toward the Republican Party, the GOP ought to gain a few, maybe even a dozen or so, House seats."

Cook on the Senate: "On the Senate side, the math is a bit different and is not driven directly by the results of the past two elections. In 2010, Republicans will be defending 19 seats, only one more than Democrats will. Originally, Republicans would have had 20 seats to defend versus 15 for the Democrats, but that changed with Joe Biden's election to the vice presidency and Hillary Rodham Clinton's selection as secretary of State. Two Democratic seats that would not have been up again until 2014 and 2012, respectively, will be in 2010. Add in Arlen Specter's party switch, and next year's lineup brings almost complete parity in the parties' exposure."

For more of Cook's fascinating analysis click here.

Significant Jump In National Support For Gays In The Military

Posted Jun 09, 2009 at 1:53 AM by Maurice Berger

The nation is becoming increasingly friendly to the idea of gay rights and equality, as a recent Galup poll that measures attitudes about homosexuals serving openly in the military suggests: "Americans are six percentage points more likely than they were four years ago to favor allowing openly gay men and lesbian women to serve in the military, 69% to 63%. While liberals and Democrats remain the most supportive, the biggest increase in support has been among conservatives and weekly churchgoers -- up 12 and 11 percentage points, respectively."

Gallup's analysis continues: "The finding that majorities of weekly churchgoers (60%), conservatives (58%), and Republicans (58%) now favor what essentially equates to repealing the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy implemented under President Clinton in 1993 is noteworthy for several reasons. First, the data show that these traditionally conservative groups are shifting on this issue, supporting it to a far greater extent than they support legalized gay marriage. Second, it suggests the political playing field may be softer on this issue, and President Barack Obama will be well-positioned to forge ahead with his campaign promise to end the military ban on openly gay service members with some support from more conservative segments of the population. To date, it is estimated that more than 12,500 servicemen and servicewomen have been discharged under the policy, including more than 200 since Obama took office."

Republican Party In Disarray?

Posted Jun 08, 2009 at 2:25 AM by Maurice Berger

According to a new Democracy Corps survey, the Republican Party continues to do poorly with American voters: "The Republican Party sports a net favorability rating of -15 points (30 percent favorable, 45 percent unfavorable). By comparison, the Democratic Party enjoys a relatively strong +8 rating (46 percent favorable, 38 percent unfavorable). The image gap between the two parties also remains near its all-time high. And in a test of the 2010 congressional vote (using the incumbents’ names), Democrats currently hold a 10-point advantage, a slight increase from their 2008 margin"

The Democratric-leaning Democracy Corps also suggests that former VP Dick Cheney's recent visability may be a factor in the GOP downturn: "With a net favorability of -20 (31 percent favorable, 51 percent unfavorable), the former vice president is at his lowest level of popularity since Democracy Corps first measured it in 1999. Cheney is a deeply divisive figure, popular only with the conservative base of the Republican Party but unpopular with everyone else, including independents (among whom he has net -26 favorability rating) and moderate Republicans. In fact, President Obama (+5) is more popular with moderate Republicans than Cheney (-9)."

Sotomayor Enjoys Broad Support Within Obama Coalition

Posted Jun 05, 2009 at 1:54 AM by Maurice Berger

The very coalition that assured and strengthened Obama's win last November is now standing strongly behind the president's nominee for the US Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor: Boosted by large black, Hispanic and Jewish majorities, American voters approve--55% to 25%--President Obama's nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court, according to a new Quinnipiac poll. Back in November, African-American support for Obama was well over 90%, Jewish support was just under 80%, and Hispanic support near the 70% mark.

Economic Crisis: Bush, Not, Obama The Source of the Problem

Posted Jun 04, 2009 at 2:07 AM by Maurice Berger

According to Rasmussen Reports, most Americans blame George W. Bush and not President Obama for the economic crisis gripping the nation: "Obama contends he inherited the nation’s ongoing economic problems and that his actions since taking office are not to blame. 62% of U.S. voters agree with the president that the problems are due to the recession that began under the Bush administration. Just 27% of voters say the problems are being caused more by the policies Obama has put in place since taking office, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. 10% are not sure which president is more to blame . . . 

. . . Not surprisingly, 88% of Democrats say it’s Bush’s fault. However, Republicans are more evenly divided. Thirty-four percent 34% of the GOP faithful say the economic problems can be traced to the Bush Administration, while 51% blame Obama’s policies. Among voters not affiliated with either party, 61% say the Bush recession is to blame versus 28% who say Obama is at fault."

The Question Of Gay Marriage

Posted Jun 03, 2009 at 2:22 AM by Maurice Berger

A reader, Derek Fields, writes the following to PollTrack's political director:

I haven't seen the specific wording of the Gallup poll, but I wonder whether they ask any questions that separate the issue of legal protections for "united" gays versus the religious overtones of the term "marriage"  My understanding is that when a pollster asks a question that addresses the civil protections without introducing the term marriage, support for gay unions jumps substantially. 

Given the strong support generational divide in the poll numbers, I would speculate that the days when a majority opposes gay marriage in this country are severely limited.

Given the descrepany in recent polling, Derek is undoutedly correct. The very wording of a question within a survey--especially a controversial one--can dramatically alter the overall result. As for the second point, fresh polling absolutely backs up Derek's assumption about future attitudes about gay marriage. The recent Gallup survey, for example, reports that a "majority of 18- to 29-year-olds think gay or lesbian couples should be allowed to legally marry, while support reaches only as high as 40% among the three older age groups." The overall numbers for support of gay marriage amomng younger voters hovers around the 60% mark--a clear harbinger of future trends in the United States.

Military Veterans Trend Republican

Posted Jun 02, 2009 at 2:49 AM by Maurice Berger

Consistent with early surveys, a Gallup Poll confirms that US military veterans trend Republican in their political orientation: "This Republican skew is at least minimally evident across all age groups, ranging from a 15-point difference in the percentage Republican between veterans and nonveterans in the 25-29 age group, to a 2-point difference in the 85+ group. . . For the entire adult population, 34% of veterans and those currently on active military service are Republican, compared to 26% of those who are not veterans, while 29% of veterans identify themselves as Democrats, compared to 38% of those who are not veterans. (Thirty-three percent of veterans are independents, compared to 29% of nonveterans.) . . . The current analysis shows that regardless of the underlying patterns of political identification that pertain at each age group, veterans (or those currently in the military) of all ages are more Republican and less Democratic than those who are not veterans."

Compared To Other Recent President's Obama Is Doing Well

Posted Jun 01, 2009 at 2:30 AM by Maurice Berger

Gallup publishes this chart, which compares the approval ratings of president's over the past sixty-years in May of their first year in office. As you can see, only three other president's have done better than Obama, though all but two came in over the 60% mark. Kennedy and Eisenhower's approvals were in the stratosphere, at 77% and 74% respectively. Reagan is third at 68%; Obama not far behind at 65%. The numbers for Lyndon Johnson are not reported (perhaps because he was not elected to his first term, having assumed office upon the dead of John Kennedy in November 1963):