Presidential Race Maps Writing on the Wall

GOP Catches Democrats On Generic Congressional Ballot

Posted Jul 31, 2009 at 1:34 AM by Maurice Berger

Is the Democratic brand in trouble? After years of leading the Generic Congressional Ballot--often by wide margins--the Democrats have fallen slightly behind. According to a new NPR poll, "The so-called generic ballot question was also very close. Asked whether they would support a Democrat or a Republican for Congress in 2010 if the election were held today, 42 percent said they would choose a Democrat and 43 percent a Republican, a difference well within the poll's margin of error (plus or minus 3.4 percentage points for each number in each question)."

Obama's Approval Slightly Higher

Posted Jul 30, 2009 at 1:58 AM by Maurice Berger

As of this morning, PollTrack's aggregate approval rating for the President stood at 53.4%--40.2% disapprove of his performance--a very slight uptick from earlier in the week." Several polls are contradictory, with Rasmussen showing Obam's approval at a meager 48%, CBS News/NY Times at a much healthier 58%, a ten point difference. PollTrack will continue to monitor the President's aggregate approval rating. Obama's polling average may soon increase after several weeks of negative press coverage; it may remain stable in the low-1950s; or it may prefigure a downward trend in the public perception of his performance. In any case, PollTrack will follow the trend.

Most Americans Support Health Care Legislation

Posted Jul 29, 2009 at 2:06 AM by Maurice Berger

According to a new Gallup survey, most Americans support health care legislation, but not necessarily this year: "Seven in 10 Americans favor the passage of new health care reform legislation, but less than half (41%) say a new law needs to be passed this year." The good news for the Obama administration is that a VERY solid majority of Americans favor this legislation, albeit disagreeing on the timing. Here is Gallup's Chart:


Voters More Concerned About Health Care Costs Than Universal Coverage

Posted Jul 28, 2009 at 2:22 AM by Maurice Berger

A recently released survey reports that "61% of voters nationwide say that cost is the biggest health care problem facing the nation today." The national telephone survey finds that "just 21% believe the lack of universal health insurance coverage is a bigger problem. Only 10% believe the quality of care is the top concern, and 2% point to the inconvenience factor of dealing with the current medical system. Given a choice between health care reform and a tax hike or no health care reform and no tax hike, 47% would prefer to avoid the tax hike and do without reform. Forty-one percent (41%) take the opposite view."

Enormous Racial Divide On Issue Of Obama's Handing Of Gates Question

Posted Jul 27, 2009 at 2:00 AM by Maurice Berger


The only poll thus far on the question of how President Obama handled the issue of the arrest of Prof. Henry Louis Gates Jr indicates an enormous racial divide in the public's assessement. While an 46% of Americans rate the president’s response as poor, only 26% of voters nationwide say President Obama did a good or excellent job answering a press conference question about the incident involving a white Cambridge, Massachusetts policeman and a black Harvard professor. Yet, beneath the "top line numbers is a huge gap between the way that white and black Americans view the situation . . . 71% of African-Americans say the president’s response was good or excellent, a view shared by just 22% of white Americans. At the other extreme, 53% of white voters gave the president’s response a poor grade. 5% of black Americans offered such a negative response."

Obama Drops Below "Honeymoon" Threshold

Posted Jul 24, 2009 at 1:22 AM by Maurice Berger

As of this morning, PollTrack's aggregate approval rating for the President stood at 53.6%-- 42.2% disapprove of his performance--below the threshold over which a political leader is said to be in his "honeymoon phase." Rasmussen will report later this morning an even more alarming result for Obama: for the first time more Americans disapprove than approve of his performance, with 49% affirmative, 51% negative. PollTrack will continue to monitor the President's aggregate approval rating very closely. Obama's polling average may soon recover after a week of often negative press coverage; it may remain stable in the mid-1950s; or it may prefigure a downward trend in the public perception of his performance. In any case, PollTrack will follow the trend over the next few weeks.

Minnesota: Voters Would Choose Obama Over Gov. Pawlenty in 2012 Relection Race

Posted Jul 23, 2009 at 1:46 AM by Maurice Berger

Despite President Obama's somewhat diminished, but still decent, approval rating in the key swing state of Minnesota, voters seem prepared to enthusiastically reelect him over incumbent Republican Governor and likely 2012 presidential candidate, Tim Pawlenty. According new a Public Policy Polling survey, "Obama's approval rating in Minnesota has dropped six points since April, but that doesn't mean voters are responding too positively to some of his Republican alternatives. 54% of voters in the state now give Obama good marks, with 39% saying they disapprove of his job performance. That's down from a 60/30 spread when PPP last polled it in April. Obama has maintained all of his popularity with Democrats but has seen a small drop in his support among independents and a significant one with Republicans. Where before 23% of voters in the opposing party thought he was doing a good job, now just 12% do. Obama nevertheless fares very well when pitted in hypothetical contest against Tim Pawlenty . . . Against Pawlenty Obama leads 51-40, a margin that would actually exceed what he won against John McCain in the state last fall."Significantly, the same poll reveals that he would beat Alaska Governor by a whopping 21-point margin if the 2012 were held today--56% to 35%--"which would be the most lopsided Presidential result in the state since Lyndon Johnson's landslide against Barry Goldwater in 1964"

Approval For President Obama's Handling of Health Care Is Slipping

Posted Jul 22, 2009 at 1:30 AM by Maurice Berger

In yet another sign that President Obama's honeymoon stage may be ending, American support for his handling of health care reform appears to be slipping. The latest USA Today/Gallup poll reports that as "the debate over health care reform intensifies,  more Americans disapprove (50%) than approve (44%) of the way U.S. President Barack Obama is handling health care policy. There is a tremendous partisan gap in these views, with 74% of Democrats but only 11% of Republicans approving. Independents are more likely to disapprove than to approve of Obama's work on health care." Here is Gallup's chart:



Obama Approval Numbers Vary

Posted Jul 21, 2009 at 2:25 AM by Maurice Berger

With some polls showing Obama's overall approval rating as high as 60% (Gallup) or as low as 52% (Rasmussen), a new Public Policy Polling survey shows an even steeper, indeed dramatic decline: The poll "finds Barack Obama’s approval rating dropping to 50%, continuing a gradual decline in his numbers over the last two months. In May Obama was at 55%. That dropped to 52% in June before today’s poll. Obama’s decline comes largely as a result of a reduction in his bipartisan support. His approval among Republicans is now 12% after being in the 18-19% range in the previous two polls. While he has maintained strong support from African Americans and Hispanics his approval has dipped to below 40% with whites. He’s also seen a pretty large shift with moderates, from 67% approval to 61%."

His long term prospects for reelection--a ridiculous thing to poll at this point, since presidents do not generally come into their own politically for several years after their election--appear rosier according to PPP: "Tested in hypothetical contests against some possible 2012 GOP opponents Obama still maintains leads similar to what he won in the popular vote against John McCain last fall. He has a nine point lead against Mitt Romney, eight point ones against Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin, and a six point one against Mike Huckabee."

Yet, another poll by Rasmussen, reports a much bleaker outlook for the President in 2012: "If the 2012 presidential election were held today, President Obama and possible Republican nominee Mitt Romney would be all tied up at 45% each, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. The president, seeking a second four-year term, beats another potential GOP rival, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, by six points – 48% to 42%. In both match-ups, 7% like some other candidate, with 3% undecided."

By A Small Plurality, Americans Support Taxing The Rich To Pay For Healthcare

Posted Jul 20, 2009 at 2:08 AM by Maurice Berger

According to a new Rasmussen Reports survey, Americans by a small margin--48% to 44%--favor taxing wealthier Americans To pay for health care reform. But "just 35% of U.S. voters now support the creation of a government health insurance company to compete with private health insurers . . . 50% of voters oppose setting up a government health insurance company as President Obama and congressional Democrats are now proposing in their health care reform plan"

2012 GOP Presidential Nomination: Romney In The Lead

Posted Jul 17, 2009 at 2:07 AM by Maurice Berger

Former MA Governor Mitt Romney has pulled into an early lead in the race for the 2012 GOP nomination for president. According to Gallup, "about one in four Republicans and Republican-leaning independents make Mitt Romney their top choice for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, giving him a slight edge over Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is the choice of 14% of Republicans, with much smaller numbers choosing current Govs. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota and Haley Barbour of Mississippi.

Here is Gallup's chart:


Diageo/Hotline: Obama's Approval Drops Nine Points

Posted Jul 16, 2009 at 1:31 AM by Maurice Berger

The latest Diageo/Hotline Poll of registered voters conducted from July 9-13, 2009, suggests that President Obama may be transitioning out of his honeymoon stage: the poll reports that "the percentage of American voters who approve of the job President Obama is doing has dropped nine points to 56%. The previous Diageo/ Hotline Poll, conducted from June 4-7, found that 65% of voters approved of the job he was doing. Obama’s Job Approval Ratings With 56% of voters approving of the job he is doing, the Poll finds President Obama’s job approval rating is at its lowest level recorded in the six monthly Diageo/Hotline Polls since
President Obama took office."

Voters Now Trust Republicans More On Some Issues

Posted Jul 15, 2009 at 1:24 AM by Maurice Berger

While President Obama's national approval rathing hovers in the upper 50% range--nowhere near the danger zone, though it has fallen significantly since his inauguration in January--the country now appears more willing to blame the Democrats for problems that only months ago were as seen as caused by Republicans. Rasmussen reports that "voters now trust Republicans more than Democrats on eight out of 10 key electoral issues, including, for the second straight month, the top issue of the economy. They've also narrowed the gap on the remaining two issues, the traditionally Democratic strong suits of health care and education. . . . [The] survey finds that voters trust theGOP more on economic issues 46% to 41%, showing little change from the six-point lead the party held last month. This is just the second time in over two years of polling the GOP has held the advantage on economic issues." 

Americans Ill Informed About The US Supreme Court

Posted Jul 14, 2009 at 1:37 AM by Maurice Berger

According to a C-SPAN US Supreme Court survey, Americans know very little about the auspicious and powerful body. As Sonia Sotomayor's faces Senators in her confirmation hearing this week, the poll finds less than half of all Americans know the court has nine justices. In addition, just 46% of those surveyed could name any of the justices

Democrats Maintain Distinct Edge In Party Support

Posted Jul 13, 2009 at 1:56 AM by Maurice Berger

American voters by a siginificant margin affiliate with the Democratic over Republican parties. According to Gallup, "the Democratic Party continues to hold a solid advantage in party support over the Republican Party, as 49% of Americans interviewed in the second quarter of this year identified with or leaned to the Democratic Party, compared with 40% who did so for the Republican Party." However, as Gallup notes, the nine-point advantage now held by the Democrats is smaller than the 13-point edge measured in the first quarter of the year.

How Long Will Obama's "Honeymoon" Last

Posted Jul 10, 2009 at 1:17 AM by Maurice Berger

Gallup examines the so-called "honeymoon phase" of President Obama's approval numbers and wonders how long it wil last: "Presidents typically enjoy positive approval ratings during the early stages of their presidencies, commonly known as the "honeymoon" period. Barack Obama is no exception, with ratings that have generally been above 60%. But recent presidents' honeymoons have typically ended much sooner than those of their predecessors. Whereas presidents from Harry Truman through Richard Nixon spent an average of 26 months above the historical average 55% presidential job approval rating after they took office, presidents from Gerald Ford to George W. Bush spent an average of just seven months above this norm." Gallup then charts the length of the "honeymoon phase" for each President since Democrat Harry Truman:


President Obama's Approval Rating Falling Behind In Key Swing State Of Ohio

Posted Jul 09, 2009 at 1:39 AM by Maurice Berger

A new Quinnipiac University poll may give President Obama reason to worry: "President Barack Obama gets a lackluster 49% to 44% approval rating in Ohio, considered by many to be the most important swing state in a presidential election . . . This is President Obama's lowest approval rating in any national or statewide Quinnipiac University poll since he was inaugurated and is down from 62% to 31% in a May 6 survey.  By a small 48% to 46% margin, voters disapprove of the way Obama is handling the economy . . . This is down from a 57% to 36% approval May 6. A total of 66% of Ohio voters are 'somewhat dissatisfied' or 'very dissatisfied' with the way things are going in the state, while 33% are 'very satisfied' or 'somewhat satisfied,' numbers that haven't changed since Obama was elected." (A new Public Policy Polling survey shows a similar drop in Obama's supports in another key 2008 swing state--Virginia--where his positive approval comes in at only 48%.)

Rasmussen: Majority of Americans Continue To Rate Economy As Poor

Posted Jul 08, 2009 at 1:48 AM by Maurice Berger

Despite slight uoticks in some economic indicators, Rasumussen reports that a solid majority of Americans continue to rate the economy as poor: "Nationally, only 10% of adults rate the U.S. economy good or excellent while 55% rate it as poor. While 13% of men give the economy positive ratings, only 7% of women do the same. But 55% of both men and women say the economy is in poor shape." 

Obama's Support Among Independents May Be Falling Off

Posted Jul 07, 2009 at 2:11 AM by Maurice Berger

While President Obama's overall approval rating appears to remain stable--hovering around the 60% mark--his support among one of the most crucial voter groups, independents, may be declining. A new Quinnipiac University poll reports that while "Obama's first five months in office have seen his job approval remain stable overall--currently at a politically healthy 57% - 33% percent--his disapproval has risen 8% - 10% points among several key demographic groups even as the national mood has improved somewhat in recent months, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released today.  Approval among independent voters is 52% - 37%, compared to 57% - 30% percent in a June 4 survey . . .  The survey of more than 3,000 voters also finds that voters feel 32% - 30% that things in the nation have gotten better since President Obama was inaugurated. Independent voters say 32% - 27% that things are worse, with 40% saying things are the same. " Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, writes: "Those who liked President Obama the most from the start - African-Americans, Democrats, women - still like him by the same margins, but a chunk of voters who were undecided have decided he's not their cup of tea. Among independents, men, white Catholics, white evangelical Christians and Republicans, his numbers have fallen. He still has a ways to go before his coalition becomes politically unstable, but there are some groups and issues - especially the economy - where he needs to make sure this trend does not continue."


Happy 4th Of July: Back On Tuesday!

Posted Jul 02, 2009 at 1:56 AM by Maurice Berger

We're taking a break and will be back with fresh news and polling analysis on Tuesday, 7 July. Happy Holiday!

Congressional Approval Rating Drops To 33%

Posted Jul 02, 2009 at 1:53 AM by Maurice Berger

Public perceptions about the US Congress have dropped even further, according to Gallup: "Americans' approval of the job Congress is doing has slipped to 33% this month, down from the recent high of 39% in March, but still significantly higher than job approval ratings of Congress over the last several years. Although there was no change in the control of either the House of Representatives or the Senate as a result of the 2008 elections, Americans' approval of Congress shot up concurrently with the inauguration of the new president in January -- going from 19% in early January to 31% in February to 39% in March. Congress' approval rating then dropped slightly in April and May, and this month is down further, as noted. . . . The slip in job approval to 33% this month appears to have been caused in part by a significant drop in approval among Democrats, whose 50% rating this month is the lowest since February. Republicans' rating is at 17% while independents' rating is at 31%, neither of which is sharply different from where each has been in the previous four months."

When It Comes To Perceptions About Economic Crisis, Sharp Partisan Differences

Posted Jul 01, 2009 at 1:35 AM by Maurice Berger

A Gallup poll reveals that when it comes to perceptions about the economy and the current economic crisis, sharp partisan differences prevail: "Republicans and Democrats view economic issues facing the country today from substantially different perspectives. Republicans are most likely to be worried about the increasing federal deficit, increasing federal income taxes, and problems state governments have in funding their budgets, while Democrats are most worried about the rising unemployment rate, Americans without health care insurance, and the increasing cost of health care. These results underscore the political tensions that have arisen as the Obama administration and Congress wrestle with how to fix the country's economic problems, while at the same time dealing with the longer-term impact of those efforts. Taken as a whole, Republicans are more concerned than Democrats about the impact of increased federal and state spending, and government regulation of business, while Democrats are more concerned about the societal problems that the increased spending and regulation are designed to address."

Here's a sampling of the top priorities by party affiliation: