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Friday, November 26, 2010

Barack Obama, Polls And The 2012 Presidential Election

Polling done two years away from an election is pretty meaningless, after all two years ago polling indicated that Republicans would not be likely to take 39 seats in the House of Representatives to wrest control from Democrats and yet two years later, Republicans slammed Democrats and took 63 seats (still a few undecided yet) and starting January 2011 Republicans will be in control of the House.

What polls can do two years away from an election is tell those with a political dog in the race where they are weak, where they are strong and what they need to work on in the following two years.

Most importantly polls are wonderful for showing patterns. Different polling organizations can show varied numbers but if an upward or downward pattern is seen among them all, then one can assume with confidence that the direction is right while the numbers themselves are subject to interpretation.

Via RCP:

The pattern shows Barack Obama heading downward consistently and among all polling organizations, small jumps, then downward again, with no set pattern showing him rebounding.

Zogby released a report on November 22, 2010 showing Barack Obama down to a 39 percent approval rating, the lowest seen to date.

President Barack Obama's job approval rating has dropped to the lowest point of his Presidency at 39%, and in potential match-ups with Republicans in 2012, he trails Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush and Newt Gingrich and is just one point ahead of Sarah Palin.

The percentage of likely voters saying the U.S. is on the wrong track is now the highest since Obama took office at 69%.

Obama's downward pattern is consistent across the board but again, patterns can change in politics depending on a number of factors, especially with two years to go before the next presidential election.

Byron York breaks down Obama's number by demographics by looking at the latest polling data available, showing his weaknesses and strengths.

Start with voters who call themselves independents. Obama won 52 percent of them in 2008; now, according to Gallup, he is at 42 percent. Obama's party as a whole fared even worse among independents in the midterms, losing them to Republicans by 19 points. If Obama does anywhere near that badly in 2012, he'll lose.

Next, women. In 2008, Obama won 56 percent of female voters. Today, he's at 49 percent. If that number doesn't improve, he'll be in deep trouble. (Obama is also down with men, from 49 percent in 2008 to 44 percent now.)

Even younger voters, a key part of Obama's coalition, are peeling away. In '08, Obama won 66 percent of voters 18-29 years of age. Now, he's at 58 percent. That might seem pretty good, but not when you consider his deterioration among other age groups. Obama has dropped 5 percentage points among voters in and around middle age, and 8 percent with voters above 65. If those trends continue, he'll lose.

Then there are white voters. In '08, Obama won 43 percent of whites. Now, he's at 37 percent -- a dangerously low number for his re-election hopes. He won 67 percent of Hispanic voters in 2008; now, he's at 58 percent. Even support among black voters, a bedrock for Obama, has ticked downward; after winning 95 percent of blacks in '08, he's now at 89 percent.

Just one group has stuck with Obama through it all. In '08, he won 58 percent of people with graduate degrees. Now, he's at 59 percent. It appears that academic types will be with Obama always, but they're not enough.

York concludes:

Despite his problems, there are still ways Obama can win. His greatest hope, as always in politics, is that the other side will screw up. Maybe the newly empowered House Republicans will do a terrible job, or the GOP will nominate an awful presidential candidate. But that just underscores a stark reality. At this point, it will be hard for Obama to save himself. He'll need a lot of help to win a second term in the White House.

Republicans trounced Democrats in the midterms, not by making promises of bipartisanship but by promising to listen to their constituents, promising to try to repeal Obamacare and barring that because of a Democratically controlled Senate and presidential veto, to defund the most egregious portions of it, promising to focus on jobs and economy and decreasing the amounts of government spending that has gotten completely out of control.

At this point, patterns show that Barack Obama does indeed need the help of Republicans to change his downward pattern and reverse it and as long as Republicans keep their promises, listen to their voters and fight for what the voters want, that help will not be forthcoming.

If Republicans break those promises and do not abide by the will of their constituents and Independents that leaned heavily towards them during the midterms, then they will, in effect, be helping Barack Obama in his 2012 reelection bid.