Presidential Race Maps Writing on the Wall

Presidential Approval/Disapproval A Problem?

Posted Jan 29, 2010 at 1:32 AM by Maurice Berger

In polling leading up to Wednesday's state of the union address, President Obama's disapproval rating is showing signs of eclipsing his approval rating (a problem demonstrated by Monday's weekly PollTrack rating). In two polls, Obama's disapproval is higher (Rasmussen, CNN Opinion Research) in two others, the numbers are more or less even (NPR and Gallup). Stay tuned. Monday's average may gives us a sense if Wednesday's national address has approved the president's standing.

GOP Leads Generic Congressional Ballot

Posted Jan 28, 2010 at 2:32 AM by Maurice Berger

According to a new NPR poll, the GOP leads Democrats in the generic congressional ballot, 44% to 39%--a +5% advantage. 
In 2008, the Democratic advantage in the survey was +8%.
Among the most motivated voters, the GOP lead is even greater: "Most significantly, the generic ballot improves to blowout levels among the voters most interested in the elections.   Among the 70% of likely voters who rate their interest in the upcoming November elections as an 8-10 on a scale of 1-10 (where one means not interested/ten means very interested), the GOP lead on the generic ballot grows to 48%-38%.  Among 10s, it is a 50%-36% margin."

Americans Pessimistic About Economy

Posted Jan 27, 2010 at 1:15 AM by Maurice Berger

According to a new Gallup survey, American remain pessimistic about the economy: "Americans are thinking in terms of years, not months, when pondering how much longer it will be before the U.S. economy starts to recover. The vast majority (67%) believe it will be at least two years before a recovery starts, and nearly half (46%) think it will be at least three years . . . a full third of Americans (34%) say it will be four or more years before a recovery starts, the mean response is 4 ½ years-- putting the average predicted onset of recovery well into 2014."

Election 2012: New Poll Shows President Trailing Huckabee

Posted Jan 26, 2010 at 1:47 AM by Maurice Berger

According to a new Public Policy Polling survey President Obama, for the first time, "trails one of his hypothetical opponents," for reelection, "albeit by the smallest of margins."  Mike Huckabee edges Obama, 45% to 44%, but leads Mitt Romney (44% to 42%) and Sarah Palin (49% to 41%).

Obama Approval Down, Disapproval Up

Posted Jan 25, 2010 at 1:51 AM by Maurice Berger

After several weeks of bad news--including the Democrat's devastating loss in Massachusetts--President Obama's approval number has fallen this week, according to PollTrack's weekly average. As of Sunday evening, his rating is as follows: APPROVE: 47.0%. Extremely alarming for the president: the president's disapproval has crept up WELL above his approval number, now at an alarming 50.5%.

Obama's Decline In Public Approval: How Serious A Problem For Democrats in 2010

Posted Jan 22, 2010 at 1:35 AM by Maurice Berger

Republican pollster Frank Luntz fires a warning shot to Democrats in his analysis of the president's declining popularity. While his overall opinion of--and some of his ideas about--the seriousness of the dilemma now facing Democrats may be colored by ideology, two of his points about looming red flags are backed up by the results of a number of non-partisan public opinion surveys:


According to Gallup, Obama has suffered the greatest fall in approval of any elected president since the company started ongoing tracking during the Eisenhower administration. Obama came into office with the approval of two out of every three voters (67 percent) but ended his first year with just half the electorate (50 percent) offering a positive evaluation of his performance. Only the unelected Gerald Ford fared worse in the court of public opinion.


While the Republican brand has barely moved since its electoral disasters of 2006 and 2008 and remains unpopular, Democratic popularity has collapsed as well. Most surveys now have the GOP even or even slightly ahead in the generic congressional ballot, and Americans now see the Republicans to be as good if not better in handling the economy.

What Luntz fails to point out, however, is that the Republican brand is suffering as well: A new Public Policy Polling poll reports that only 19% of voters nationally are happy with the direction of the Republican Party, compared to 56% who are unhappy with it. Even more surprising--GOP voters are not particularly happy with the direction of their own party: just 35% support the direction of the party; 38% say they are unhappy.

Was Health Care A Miscalulation?

Posted Jan 21, 2010 at 1:09 AM by Maurice Berger

Was the Obama administration's emphasis on health care over jobs "a colossal miscalculation" of public sentiment and needs. Charlie Cook, in this interesting and compelling analysis, tied the drop in support for the administration to its year-long health care campaign, undertaken during a period when jobs were withering away and the unemployment rates was rising to crisis proportions: "Honorable and intelligent people can disagree over the substance and details of what President Obama and congressional Democrats are trying to do on health care reform and climate change. But nearly a year after Obama's inauguration, judging by where the Democrats stand today, it's clear that they have made a colossal miscalculation. The latest unemployment and housing numbers underscore the folly of their decision to pay so much attention to health care and climate change instead of focusing on the economy "like a laser beam," as President Clinton pledged to do during his 1992 campaign. Although no one can fairly accuse Obama and his party's leaders of ignoring the economy, they certainly haven't focused on it like a laser beam." For the entire analysis, click here.

Health Care Reform NOT Popular

Posted Jan 20, 2010 at 1:18 AM by Maurice Berger

A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll confirms what last night's returns from Massachusetts infer: health care reform is not popular. In the survey, only 33% of Americans say President Obama's reform effort is a good idea; 46% consider it a mistake.

Support Of Health Care Package Hurting Blue Dog Democrats

Posted Jan 19, 2010 at 2:11 AM by Maurice Berger

So-called "Blue Dog" Democrats--moderate Democratic Senators and congressmen in marginally conservative or Republican districts or states--are suffering because of the unpopularity of the health care bill now working its way through congress. A prime example, Sen. Ben Nelson who has campaigned hard to sell Nebraskans on his vote to support the bill: "Nelson, who once enjoyed some of the highest job performance marks in the U.S. Senate, has now seen his approval rating dip below 50 percent in Nebraska, according to The World-Herald Poll. Nelson said the poll results come as no surprise, especially since Nebraskans have been 'bombarded' with millions of dollars in 'misleading advertisements.' He said he expects that people will come to appreciate the health care bill. In the survey, Nelson's job approval rating was 42 percent and his disapproval rating was 48 percent. By comparison, Republican Sen. Mike Johanns of Nebraska, who voted against the bill, had a 63 percent job-approval rating."


President Obama's Job Approval Numbers Up

Posted Jan 18, 2010 at 1:58 AM by Maurice Berger

President Obama's approval numbers are up this week. PollTrack's average as of Sunday night: 49.2% APPROVE to 45.3% DISAPPROVE. Also of note, the President's disapproval number has dropped considerably from last week: His approval rating is now +4% higher than his disapproval number.

Live Blogging Tuesday Night: MA US Senate

Posted Jan 17, 2010 at 4:30 PM by Maurice Berger

Tune into PollTrack for Tuesday night's live blog tracking election returns in the special election in Massachusetts to fill the U. S. Senate seat of the late-Ted Kennedy.

Conservativism Popular, But Moderates And Liberals Dominate

Posted Jan 15, 2010 at 12:53 AM by Maurice Berger

Despite the inroads made by Democrats in recent years--and the historic election of Barack Obama as president--more Americans consider themselves conservative relative to other political mindsets: "The increased conservatism . . . identified among Americans last June persisted throughout the year, so that the final year-end political ideology figures confirm Gallup’s initial reporting: conservatives (40%) outnumbered both moderates (36%) and liberals (21%) across the nation in 2009." PollTrack points out that the combined total of moderates and liberals--now at 61%--far outnumbers conservatives. So it's hard to say if Gallup figure has broader meaning relative to changes in the electorate.

Divorse Higher In States That Ban Gay Marriage

Posted Jan 14, 2010 at 2:27 AM by Maurice Berger

In a fascinating analysis, Nate Silver notes a distinct correlation between states that have passed gay marriage bans and the divorse rate among hetrosexual couples: "Over the past decade or so, divorce has gradually become more uncommon in the United States. Since 2003, however, the decline in divorce rates has been largely confined to states which have not passed a state constitutional ban on gay marriage. These states saw their divorce rates decrease by an average of 8 percent between 2003 and 2008. States which had passed a same-sex marriage ban as of January 1, 2008, however, saw their divorce rates rise by about 1 percent over the same period."

Republicans’ Life Ratings Drop While Democrats’ Improve

Posted Jan 13, 2010 at 1:41 AM by Maurice Berger

According to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, "throughout 2009, the percentages of Republicans and Democrats who rated their present and future lives highly enough to be classified as "thriving" were virtually equal . . . This trend stands in stark contrast to 2008, when Republicans were more likely to be thriving than were Democrats. Gallup measures life evaluation using the Cantril Self-Anchoring Striving Scale, which asks survey respondents to evaluate their present and future lives on a "ladder" scale."

Gallup continues: "When news of the financial services meltdown first broke in the waning days of the Bush administration in September 2008, 57% of Republicans and 38% of Democrats were classified as thriving. In November, the month of the presidential election, Republicans' life evaluations dropped much more sharply than Democrats' or independents'. Then in January 2009, the month Obama took office, life ratings among Democrats and independents rose more sharply than among Republicans. By February 2009, the thriving percentages among Republicans (44%) and Democrats (45%) were virtually identical."

Americans Continue To Blame Bush For The Bad Economy

Posted Jan 12, 2010 at 1:30 AM by Maurice Berger

In a bit of good news for the Obama administration, a new Rasmussen survey, reports that "51% of voters nationwide continue to believe that the economic woes can still be blamed on Administration of George W. Bush . . . [the] survey finds that just 41% hold the opposite view and believe the policies of Barack Obama are to blame."

Obama Approval Moves Downward

Posted Jan 11, 2010 at 1:42 AM by Maurice Berger

President Obama's approval number has dropped by a point this week, according to PollTrack's weekly average. As of Sunday evening, his rating is as follows: APPROVE: 47.5%. The president's disapproval number is now higher than his approval, a possibly alarming development for the administration. The president's disapproval number has also crept up from last week to 48.5%. 

Midterm Elections: Too Early To Tell

Posted Jan 08, 2010 at 2:20 AM by Maurice Berger

PollTrack suggests taking a look at this informative New York Times round table on the upcoming midterm elections. While certain political signs point to possibly significant Democratic loses (presidential job approval below 50%, shrinking Democratic partisan identification, a GOP lead on the Congressional Generic ballot), it is still too early to tell. An improved economy--and an uptick in job creation--could well benefit the Democrats (ten months is a relatively long time in the politics of the Internet age). Or continued stagnation may well add seats to the GOP column. Will shrinking Democratic turnout--relative to last year's wave of enthusiasm for candidate Obama--ultimately hurt the party in power or will Democrats, still weary from 8-years of George W. Bush, turn out in sufficient numbers to keep things stable? Click here for the complete NYT round table.

Gallup: Obama At 50% At Start of Second Year

Posted Jan 07, 2010 at 1:46 AM by Maurice Berger

Gallup notes that President Obama begins his second year as president with 50% of Americans approving and 44% disapproving of his overall job performance: "This is well below the 68% approval rating Obama received in his first few days as president, and matches his average for all of December -- which included many days when public support for him fell slightly below that important symbolic threshold. . . . Obama's initial approval rating in his second year as president is among the lowest for elected presidents since Dwight Eisenhower. Only Ronald Reagan -- who, like Obama, took office during challenging economic times -- began his second year in office with a lower approval score (49%). However, Obama's disapproval rating is slightly higher than Reagan's was (44% vs. 40%)." Of course, as PollTrack notes, Reagan went on to become one of the most popular US presidents in the 20th-Century. So at this early stage, it's hard to tell if these numbers are in any way significant.

50% of Americans Believe Recession Will Continue Into 2010

Posted Jan 06, 2010 at 1:30 AM by Maurice Berger

How soon will the recession end? Not so soon, if American perception are correct. According to a newly released Rasmussen survey, "50% of Americans believe the country will still be in recession at the end of 2010 . . . Just 20% disagree and say America will not be in recession by then. 31% aren’t sure. While many economists say the recession is over, 71% of all adults say it is not. 75% of investors still believe the economy is in a recession.

Obama, Clinton: Most Admired Americans

Posted Jan 05, 2010 at 1:39 AM by Maurice Berger

A new survey by USA TODAY/Gallup finds that President Obama is the man Americans admired most in 2009, and finds Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and former Alaska governor Sarah Palin are virtually tied as the most-admired woman.The close finish by Clinton, named by 16% in the open-ended survey, and Palin, named by 15%, reflects the nation's partisan divide. Clinton was cited by nearly 3 in 10 Democrats but only 6% of Republicans, Palin by a third of Republicans but less than 1% of Democrats. Obama dominates the field among men at 30%, though his support also shows a partisan split. He was named by more than half of Democrats but just 7% of Republicans.

Obama Approval Stable

Posted Jan 04, 2010 at 2:07 AM by Maurice Berger

President Obama's approval number remains stable this week, according to PollTrack's weekly average. As of Sunday evening, his rating remains the same as last week: APPROVE: 48.5%. The president's approval number remains higher than his disapproval. The bad news: his disapproval number has crept up from last week to 47.5%. PollTrack also notes that this week's average may be skewed by the Christmas and New Year holiday season--polling is irregular and sporadic during this time--and daily trackers that take a second break through this coming Monday.