Presidential Race Maps Writing on the Wall

Americans Cite Cost As Biggest Health Care Problem

Posted Sep 30, 2009 at 1:46 AM by Maurice Berger

Americans see affordability as the nation's biggest health care concern, according to a recent Gallup survey: "In an open-ended question, Americans are most likely to say cost (38%) is the biggest problem with health care in the United States today, followed by too many uninsured (15%), and insurance companies (13%)." There is a major gap in the perception of this issue, however, depending on the respondent's own insurance status: "A question asking whether health care costs pose a major problem, a minor problem, or no problem personally for respondents provides another indication of the broad gap in concern about healthcare between the insured and the uninsured. Seventy-two percent of the uninsured say costs are a major problem. By contrast, 42% of adults with private insurance, and 40% of those with Medicare/Medicaid, say this."

Republican Party Trials Democratic In Popularity, But Improves Its Standing

Posted Sep 29, 2009 at 2:18 AM by Maurice Berger

A new Gallup Survey reports that while the Democratic Party maintains a significant edge in public approval, the GOP has pick up a bit of seam in recent weeks: "The Republican Party's image -- quite tattered in the first few months after the 2008 elections -- has seen some recent improvement. 40% of Americans now hold a favorable view of the Republicans, up from 34% in May. The Republicans still trail the Democrats on this popularity measure, as 51% of Americans now view the Democrats favorably. With the Democrats' favorable rating dipping slightly since last November, their advantage has narrowed." Here is Gallup's chart, tracking these numbers since January 2008:

Trend: Republican, Democratic Party Favorable Ratings Since January 2008

Slight Uptick For President Obama's Approval Rating

Posted Sep 28, 2009 at 1:30 AM by Maurice Berger

As of Sunday evening, PollTrack reports a slight uptick in President Obama's aggregate approval rating. 51.5% now have a positive view of the president's performance; 41.5% a negative one.

White Voters Now Disapprove of Obama

Posted Sep 25, 2009 at 1:48 AM by Maurice Berger

One statistic in a new Public Policy Polling survey suggests that there is now a massive racial divide in the way Americans view President Barack Obama: "50% of whites disapprove of Obama’s performance compared to 45% approving but his overall numbers are solid thank to an 89% rating with African Americans and a 64% one with Hispanics." Given Obama's inability in Election 2008 to garner more than 43.5% of the white vote (to McCain's 57%)--statistically equal to his present-day performance with this demographic--PollTrack suggests that this number should not be surprising. The problem for Obama, however, is the steady decline of support among white voters during his tenture as president relative to voters of color, who continue to enthusiastically support him.

President Obama's Approval Rating Falls to 50.6%

Posted Sep 24, 2009 at 1:23 AM by Maurice Berger

It appears that President Obama's speech to a joint session of Congress and his media blitz this past weekend have had littlr effect on his overall approval ratings. Indeed, as of Wednesday evening, his number have dropped back to early September levels. His positive rating now hovers at the 50% mark: 50.6% to 43.6% disapproval.

Economy Top Concern For US Voters

Posted Sep 23, 2009 at 1:52 AM by Maurice Berger

The economy remains the number one issue for American voters, according to a new analysis by Rasmussen Reports: "No matter how we ask the question, voters continue to put economic issues such as jobs and economic growth highest on their list of concerns. Every night, Rasmussen Reports asks likely voters to choose from a list of five broad issues which is most important to them in terms of how they vote . . . The economy dominated Election 2008 and has been named as the top concern by 37% to 52% of voters every week over the past year. No other issue has risen above 20% among voters. On Election Day, National Security was second, but it has slipped behind fiscal policy concerns and domestic issues in recent weeks.. . . However, the number of voters who see economic issues as most important has slipped somewhat since President Barack Obama was inaugurated in January. For nearly all of February, 50% or more of voters saw the economy as the top issue. By June, that percentage slipped down to the low 40’s and was down to 37% in late August. It bounced back to 44% for the week ending September 13"

Both Parties In Congress Are Near Record Low Appoval

Posted Sep 22, 2009 at 1:03 AM by Maurice Berger

According to a new New USA Today/Gallup survey, the approval ratings of the two major parties in Congress are at near record lows. The Democrats fare slightly better than the Republicans, in line with the pattern in recent years. 36% of Americans approve of how the Democrats in Congress are doing their job; 27% approve of the Republicans. However, both parties' ratings are down significantly from earlier this year, returning them to the record-low levels seen in 2007 and 2008. Here is Gallup's chart:



Presidential Approval Update: Obama Holds Steady At 52.4%

Posted Sep 21, 2009 at 1:31 AM by Maurice Berger

As of Sunday evening, PollTrack's President Obama's average presidential approval rating holds steady at 52.4%. His negative number is 41%.

Americans Somewhat Skeptical About Healthcare Proposals

Posted Sep 18, 2009 at 1:19 AM by Maurice Berger

To a considerable degree, Americans remain uncertain about the scope and cost of health care proposals now being considered by Congress, according to a new Gallup poll: "Americans are skeptical that President Obama's health care plan will be able to accomplish all he intends -- to expand coverage to nearly all Americans without raising taxes on middle-class Americans or affecting the quality of care. 38% believe his plan will achieve all of these goals, while 60% do not think it will. Republicans are nearly united in thinking the plan will not accomplish these stated goals (90% believe it will not), and most independents (64%) agree. Two in three Democrats (66%), on the other hand, express optimism that the plan will achieve these aims . . . Less than a majority [of all polled, 43%] say they are confident that Obama's plan can be paid for mostly through cost savings in Medicare and other parts of the healthcare system, as Obama has proposed. 11% are very confident of this."

Significantly, the survey concludes that "Although the public stops short of saying reform will make these things worse -- given that about one in five expect the reforms not to make a difference either way -- in three of the four areas, more predict health care legislation would make the situation worse rather than better. These are key considerations given that support for a healthcare plan -- currently 50%, including "soft" support -- could drop considerably if Americans were convinced that reform would have a harmful effect on the middle class through higher taxes, higher costs for health care, or reduced coverage or quality of care."

Public Trusts Republicans More on Issue Of Terrorism

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

CQ Politics, reporting on a new Gallup poll, writes: The public has gained confidence in the Democratic Party's ability to protect the country from terrorism, but Republicans still lead with roughly the same level of confidence they held a year after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks . . .  Republicans' standing in public confidence is 49 percent, statistically the same as it was the first time the question was asked on the one-year anniversary of the attacks, when it was 50 percent, Gallup said. Democrats gained an edge for two years in the middle of the decade when President George W. Bush's was at low ebb but have now fallen back to 42 percent."

Americans Perceive The GOP AS Obstructionist

Posted Sep 16, 2009 at 1:18 AM by Maurice Berger

Analyzing a just released national poll from ABC News/Washington Post, CQ Politics spots an ominous sign for the GOP: Americans perceive the party as obstructionist. CQ writes: "Republicans are viewed as obstructionists who are not making a good faith effort to cooperate with Democrats in the health care debate, according to [the survey]. The same poll found that half the respondents thought Democrats were making an honest effort to cooperate with Republicans on health care. Sixty-two percent of the respondents said the Republicans were not negotiating in good faith. But if there is any political blow back from this, it's hard to find. People were evenly divided on whether they would vote for (22 percent) or against (23 percent) a congressional candidate who supports the Democrats' health overhaul plan, with 54 percent saying it would make no difference to them. Forty-nine percent said they think the two parties are equally to blame for the tone of the debate."

Will "You Lie" Undo Rep. Wilson Politically

Posted Sep 15, 2009 at 1:07 AM by Maurice Berger

Following the media firestorm surrounding GOP SC Rep. Joe Wilson's during President Obama's speech to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday, a new Public Policy Polling survey finds that the congressman "went from being pretty safe for re-election to one of the most vulnerable Republican incumbents in the country." Democrat Rob Miller holds a one point lead over Wilson, 44% to 43%, in a survey conducted Thursday night and Friday morning. PPP also reports that "a majority of voters, 62%, in SC-2 disapprove of Wilson's outburst while just 29% were not bothered by it."

Obama Approval Holds Steady at 51% Mark

Posted Sep 14, 2009 at 1:42 AM by Maurice Berger

As of Sunday evening, with all tracking poll data gather AFTER President Obama's speech to the nation on health care on Wednesday, his PollTrack aggregate approval number holds stead at 51.3%. His negative rating--45.6%--still remains high relative to his numbers earlier in his presidency.  So far, it appears that his speech has had only a modest effect on his standing with voters.

Does The Media Concentrate Too Much On President Obama's Personal Life?

Posted Sep 11, 2009 at 1:46 AM by Maurice Berger

A recent suggests that Americans, by a wide margin, believe the media pays too much attention to the President's personal life. 60% believe there is too much media coverage of his personal life and family: "Just 6% of adults say there is not enough coverage of the president’s private life and family, and 28% think the coverage is about right. 66% of men say there is too much coverage of the Obama family, compared to 55% of women. Married adults by 13 points over unmarrieds agree. Perhaps not surprisingly, 75% of Republicans – along with 63% of adults not affiliated with either major political party – think the media over-covers the president’s personal life and family. Democrats, on the other hand, are evenly divided between thinking there is too much coverage and about the right amount."

Bellwether Colorado: Are The Democrats In Trouble?

Posted Sep 10, 2009 at 12:19 AM by Maurice Berger

The Washington Post wonders whether Colorado, a new and potent bellwether of national partisan support, is slipping away from the Democrats: "In 2008, Colorado became a symbol of the changing politics in a region once firmly in Republican hands -- and also of the grass-roots power and energy fueling Barack Obama's candidacy. Today, the state embodies the uneasiness spreading throughout Democratic ranks as Obama struggles with major challenges and the 2010 midterm elections approach."

Colorado has been one of the Democratic Party's major success stories. Between 1968 and 2004, Republican presidential candidates carried the state in all but one election. Last year, Obama crushed John McCain in Colorado, part of a broader shift in the balance of political power in the Rocky Mountain West. Obama's victory and earlier Democratic wins here have transformed the state. Early in the decade, Republicans controlled virtually everything -- the governor's office, almost all other statewide offices, the congressional delegation and both houses of the Colorado legislature. Today, Democrats are in control of all of those. A year ago, Denver enthusiastically hosted the Democratic National Convention, which culminated with Obama's acceptance speech before more than 80,000 people at the Denver Broncos' football stadium. Legions of volunteers, young and old, fanned out across the state throughout the fall to rally the vote for Obama's campaign."

"Today, the energy that powered Obama to victory has begun to dissipate. Some of his supporters remain on the sidelines; others are, if not disillusioned, questioning what has happened to his presidency. As they look toward 2010, Democrats are nervous. Gov. Bill Ritter, appointed Sen. Michael F. Bennet and at least one Democratic member of the House will probably face difficult election campaigns next year."

Health Care Reform Big Issue in 2010?

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

According to a new Gallup survey, "the American people are no less divided on healthcare reform today than they were a month ago. [The survey] finds 39% of Americans saying they would direct their member of Congress to vote against a healthcare reform bill this fall while 37% want their member to vote in favor. . . .[The poll] suggests the issue could be politically potent in 2010. Sixty-four percent of Americans say their representative's position on healthcare reform will be a major factor in their vote in the next congressional election; just over a third say it will be no more than a minor factor." Here is Gallup's chart:





Will Older Voters Hurt Democrats in 2010 Midterm Election?

Posted Sep 08, 2009 at 1:25 AM by Maurice Berger

Will 2010 be the year of the angry white senior, especial in more localized House races? A recent analysis by the Cook Report suggests it may: "Today's divide . . . is the generation gap – no, make that gulf – that characterized President Obama’s victory in 2008. In 1992 and 2000, Bill Clinton and Al Gore performed just slightly better among voters 60 and older than they did among voters 18 to 29 years of age. But in 2008, Obama won 66 percent of voters 18 to 29 and just 45 percent of voters 65 and older – a staggering 21 point difference. Much has been made about how this disparity in support poses a big long-term problem for the GOP. That’s true, assuming younger voters maintain their current outlook towards the political parties as they age. But aside from flurries of stories about angry senior citizens packing town halls, precious little attention has been given to why the generation gulf poses a grave short-term threat to Democrats in 2010."

"Put simply, older voters dominate midterms and have consistently been Obama's weakest age group. Unlike Bill Clinton’s gender gap, Obama’s generation gap complicates Democrats’ midterm math substantially. There's little discernible variation in gender shares of the electorate from midterm to presidential years. But midterm electorates typically skew older and whiter than those in presidential years. According to exit poll data, voters over 45 comprised 54 percent of the total electorate in 2004 and just 53 percent of the electorate in 2008, but they were 63 percent of all voters in 2006. And diminished turnout on the part of African-American and Hispanic voters, which was a factor in 1994, looks like a double whammy for Democrats."

Americans Fear Lower Quality Health Care

Posted Sep 07, 2009 at 1:23 AM by Maurice Berger

According to a Rasmussen Reports poll, nearly half of likely voters think the health care overhaul proposed by President Obama and backed by Democrats in Congress will become law this year. Yet, about half of likely voters don't like the plan. Around 50% said that they believed the overhaul would lower the quality of health care, and in answer to a separate question 52% said it would make health costs rise.

Obama's Approval Rating Markedly Improves

Posted Sep 05, 2009 at 4:35 AM by Maurice Berger

President Obama's approval numbers have improved considerably over last week, according to PollTrack's latest analysis of polling data. Last week, his support dropped below the 50% mark in PollTrack's aggregate of public opinion polls, the first time in his young presidency. As of Friday evening, Obama's approval jumped +4.5 points, to 53%, with 41.3% disapproving.

Democratic Edge In Party Affiliation Shrinks Dramatically

Posted Sep 04, 2009 at 2:03 AM by Maurice Berger

In another possibly negative sign for the Obama administration, Gallup reports that "in August, an average of 45% of Americans identified as Democrats or leaned to the Democratic Party, while 40% identified as Republicans or leaned to the Republican Party. This 5-point advantage represents a decided narrowing of the gap between the parties from the 17-point Democratic advantage in January." Here is Gallup's chart:


Unemployment Hits 28.9% in Detroit

Posted Sep 03, 2009 at 1:05 AM by Maurice Berger

With an unemployment rate now hovering around 30%--28.9% to be exact--the city of Detroit serves as a national symbol of the continued effects of the Great Recession and a lingering problem for the Obama administration and Congress. As ABC News reports: "The unemployment rate in the city of Detroit rose to 28.9 percent in July, the highest rate of unemployment since Michigan started keeping modern numbers." Will unemployment rates that remain stagnant or even continue to climb put an damper on the public's perceptions about economic recovery? Stay tuned. 

Majority Of Independent Voters Disaaprove of Obama's Performance

Posted Sep 02, 2009 at 1:34 AM by Maurice Berger

With Republicans and Democrats sharply divided, the balance of political power often falls into the hands of voters who remain independent of either party. Without their support it is virtually impossible to win national elections or maintain strong approval rating. In what might be the most ominous sign of eroding political support in Obama's still young presidency, a new CNN/Opinion Research survey reports that "a majority of independent voters disapprove of how Barack Obama's handling his job as president . . . 53% of independents questioned [in the poll] released Tuesday say they disapprove of how Obama's handling his duties in the White House, with 43% in approval. That result marks the first time in a CNN poll that a majority of independents give the president's performance a thumbs-down."

Americans Want Health Reform But Are Not Willing To Pay For It

Posted Sep 01, 2009 at 1:39 AM by Maurice Berger

According to a survey sponsored by AARP, Americans want health care reform, but are not that willing to pay for it: "56% say that it is more important than ever that we address health care reform. When asked what they’re most worried about when it comes to health care, respondents focus on rising costs, including insurance premium and prescription drug price hikes and the prospect of not being able to afford health insurance. In spite of those concerns, however, sizeable majorities say they are not willing to pay more in taxes (64%) or in premiums (74%) to cover the uninsured."