Presidential Race Maps Writing on the Wall

President Obama's Approval Rating Remains Below 50%

Posted Nov 30, 2009 at 12:50 AM by Maurice Berger

For a second straight week, President Obama's positive and negative numbers in the PollTrack average are nearly equal. And his positive approval rating remains below the 50% mark (though it's up a point from last week). As of Sunday evening, 48.5% of voters approve of the way President Obama is handling his job; 47.5%, disapprove.

First Lady Popular With Americans

Posted Nov 25, 2009 at 1:43 AM by Maurice Berger

A new Rasmussen survey reports that the popularity of First Lady Michelle Obama outpaces that of her husband, by a margin of 16%: "62% of U.S. voters have a favorable opinion of First Lady Michelle Obama, including 41% who regard her very favorably. The overall number is up four points from October and represents her highest favorable ratings in several months . . . just 32% view Mrs. Obama unfavorably. However, 18% have a very unfavorable opinion. The first lady was last viewed favorably by 62% in early July, but at that time only 34% had a very favorable opinion of her."

Afghanistan War Has Greater Support Among Republicans

Posted Nov 24, 2009 at 2:03 AM by Maurice Berger

A Quinnipiac poll finds that when it comes to the war in Afghanistan, GOP support for the war in Afghanistan is more than twice as strong as that of Democrats. On the question of whether the President 40,000 more combat troops to Afghanistan as per the wishes of US military commanders on the ground, voters, by a 47% to 42% margin, support the addition of more troops. Yet, only 27% of Democrats want more troops, compared to 68% of Republicans.

President Obama 's Approval Rating Drops Below 50%

Posted Nov 23, 2009 at 2:04 AM by Maurice Berger

Presidential approval ratings ebb and flow. At any given point a low--or high--rate of approval may reflect little about a president's overall approval over time. At this point in their tenure both Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton were hovering in the low to mid-40s (both ended their presidencies with relatively high approval numbers). Still, this week's numbers suggest that our current president has moved well past his honeymoon with voters: for the first time, his positive and negative numbers in the PollTrack average are equal. And his positive approval rating has dropped well below 50%. As of Sunday evening, 47.3% of voters approve of the way President Obama is handling his job; 47.3%, disapprove.

Americans Like President Obama More Than His Policies

Posted Nov 20, 2009 at 1:34 AM by Maurice Berger

According to a Quinnipiac University survey, Americans like President Obama more than his policies: "Three-quarters of American voters--74%--like President Barack Obama as a person, but only 47% like most of his policies, and voters disapprove 51 - 35 percent of the health care overhaul passed by the House of Representatives which he has endorsed. . . . Given four choices to describe their feelings about the President, American voters say:

  • 46 percent like Obama as a person and like most of his policies;
  • 28 percent like him as a person, but don't like most of his policies;
  • 1 percent like his policies, but don't like him as a person;
  • 20 percent don't like him or his policies.

'Most Americans like President Barack Obama and might like to have a beer with him,' said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. 'But millions of voters who sided with him last November because they thought he would bring change to Washington aren't crazy about the kind of change he is trying to bring.'"

Americans Reject Government Insurance Coverage For Abortion

Posted Nov 19, 2009 at 1:02 AM by Maurice Berger

In another sign that the nation may be growing somewaht more conservative of the issue of abortion, a new CNN/Opinion Research poll finds that 61% of "adults oppose using public funds to pay for abortions for women who may be covered by a government health insurance system, and 51 percent say women covered by private insurance should not have coverage that pays for abortion . . . 56% favor creating a federally run health insurance program to compete with private insurance companies, and 66 percent said state governments should not be allowed to decide whether the federal insurance would apply everyone in the state."

Americans Evenly Divided On Health Care Reform

Posted Nov 18, 2009 at 1:06 AM by Maurice Berger

According to a new Washington Post/ABC News poll, Americans are evenly and "deeply" divided" on the heath care reform proposals before Congress: 48% support the proposed changes while 49% are opposed. One positive sign for supporters of the legislation: "The Democrats have made some progress among at least one key group. Support among senior citizens, while still broadly negative, is up 13 points since September to 44%. Seniors have also tilted back toward Obama when matched head to head with congressional Republicans on dealing with health-care reform, helping the president to a 13-point advantage over the GOP on this issue."

Democrats In Trouble In 2010?

Posted Nov 17, 2009 at 1:53 AM by Maurice Berger

Veteran analyst Stu Rothenberg, analyzing the rest of the 2009 off-year races, argues that the Democratic brand may be in trouble in the 2010 midterm elections: "Now it will be the GOP who can push the “culture of corruption” argument that Democrats used so successfully in the recent past. Now Republicans will complain about high unemployment numbers, about causalities in Afghanistan and the administration’s foreign policy and about the government’s inability to get H1N1 flu shots to the American public. Moreover, as we are already seeing with health care reform, the internal contradictions of the Democratic Party are becoming apparent. For the past year, the national media have been focused on internal Republican divisions. But now, a fracturing in the Democratic ranks is likely to give plenty of fodder for journalists, columnists and talking heads. This is likely to further erode Democratic poll numbers."

Rothenberg also points out that such shifts in voter sentiment, away from the party principally in power, are fairly common in midterm cycles: "There is nothing unnatural about this, of course. It’s the inevitable result of a party gaining more than 50 seats over the past four years, including in districts that are conservative and lean Republican. And it always happens when one party controls both chambers of Congress and the White House."

Obama's Approval Slightly Higher

Posted Nov 16, 2009 at 2:07 AM by Maurice Berger

Obama's overall approval rating has risen in the last week. According to PollTrack's average, the president's positive rating outpaces his negative--52.0% to 41.75%.

Americans Divided On Health Care

Posted Nov 13, 2009 at 1:12 AM by Maurice Berger

According to Gallup, Americans are uncertain about the health care proposals winding their way through congress: "Americans are evenly split on the potential impact of new health care legislation, should it ultimately be passed into law. Forty-one percent say a new health care bill would make the U.S. health care system better in the long run, while 40% say it would make things worse . . . Americans are more negative about the impact of a new health care bill on their personal situations than they are about its impact on the nation as a whole. By a 10-point margin, Americans are more likely to say a new bill would make their personal health care situations worse (36%), rather than better (26%). Almost 4 out of 10 say a bill would make no difference, or have no opinion on the topic."

Most Americans Do Not See Improvement in US Race Relations

Posted Nov 12, 2009 at 1:10 AM by Maurice Berger

With Barack Obama's historic election in November 2008, a hefty majority of Americans expected race relations to improve in the United States. A year later, "the high hopes Americans had for race relations . . . have yet to be fully realized," according to a new Gallup survey. "Currently, 41% of Americans believe race relations have gotten better since Obama's win; another 35% think they have not changed, while 22% say they have gotten worse. Last November, 70% thought race relations would improve as a result of the landmark outcome."

Americans Support Extending Unemployment Benefits

Posted Nov 11, 2009 at 1:09 AM by Maurice Berger

In another indication that the high unemployment rate is weighing heavily on Americans, Rasmussen reports that most Americans favor extending unemployment benefits for an additional 20 weeks, with 59% favoring the extension of those benefits and 31% opposing it.

Health Care: A Net Plus For Obama?

Posted Nov 10, 2009 at 1:33 AM by Maurice Berger

One thing PollTrack will be monitoring very closely over the next few months is the relationship between the president's approval rating and the success or failure of the health care legislation currently working its way through congress. At the moment, high unemployment numbers and the looming deficit has taken their toll on independent voters--their loss from the Democratic fold representing the single most important factor in the party's losses in Virginia and New Jersey last week. Will the success of health care legislation--such as last Saturday's victory in the house--help to offset dissatisfaction among independent voters? The answer may well spell a continued Democratic majority next November or Republican gains. Stay tuned for analysis of this issue relative to the president's overall standing with voters.

Obama Approval Up Slightly

Posted Nov 09, 2009 at 1:02 AM by Maurice Berger

As of Sunday evening, PollTrack reports a slight increase in President Obama's aggregate approval rating. 51.8% now have a positive view of the president's performance; 45.0% a negative one. Obama's negative rating, which has slowly increased each week over the past few months, continues to represent a trouble spot for the president.

PollTrack Will Be Back On Monday, 9 November, With Full Reporting

Posted Nov 05, 2009 at 1:27 PM by Maurice Berger

Election 2009: Did Obama's Base Hold?

Posted Nov 05, 2009 at 12:26 AM by Maurice Berger

Another problem for the Democrats in Tuesday's election: parts of the Obama coalition--responsible for his easy victory last year--did not hold. As MSNBC notes: "Obama’s Base Is No Longer Fired Up And Ready To Go . . . According to the exit polls, just 10% of the voters in Virginia were under the age of 30, down from 21% last year. What’s more, McDonnell won 18-29 year olds, 54%-44%. Also in Virginia yesterday, African Americans made up 16% of the vote, down from 20% last year. And then there’s this: 51% of yesterday’s voters in Virginia said they voted for McCain, while just 43% said they voted for Obama. Folks, Obama won this state last year by a nearly 53%-46% margin."

Indepdendent Voters Made The Difference And Now Spell Trouble For The Democrats

Posted Nov 04, 2009 at 3:00 AM by Maurice Berger

President Obama's approval rating on election day was at 50%. This number suggests a problem for the Democrats, especially to the extend that it reflects a drop off in independent voter support. Indeed, it was the dramatic decline in the support of unaffiliated and independent voters that gave Republicans a decided advantage in Virginia and New Jersey. The situation with indepdendents was dire: Republican Christie won independent voters in New Jersey by 30 points (60%-30%); Obama won them 51%-47% last year. McDonnell in Virginia won indies by 33 points (66%-33%); Obama held a slight 49%-48% last year.With a nation closely divided between the two mainstream parties, independents can now tip the balance in states and localities where party registration is relatively even. In New Jersey, the message is even more dire for the Democrats: with Democrats enjoying a significant advantage in party identification, Jon Corzine still lost. Does this prefigure Democratic loses in the 2010 midterms? Hard to tell this early. But PollTrack will be watching independent voters--as well as the President's approval numbers--very closely in the coming months.

Obama's Approval Down Slightly

Posted Nov 02, 2009 at 1:42 AM by Maurice Berger

As of Sunday evening, President Obama's aggregate approval rating has decreased a full percentage point from last week's aggregate number, according to PollTrack's latest calculation: Approve: 50.5% to Disapprove: 43.2%.