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Obama's Tipping Point (if personal approval drops to same level as present job approval, he's done)
National Journal ^ | 08/18/2011

Posted on 08/18/2011 6:36:28 PM PDT by SeekAndFind

On its face, the idea that an incumbent officeholder can be reelected when more Americans disapprove of his or her job performance than approve seems unlikely. After all, if voters don't like the job you're doing, why would they give you the chance to keep doing it?

But President Obama, whose job-approval ratings are mired well south of 50 percent, has an important factor breaking his way as he seeks another term: Americans still overwhelmingly like the guy.

There is a partial correlation, pollsters say, between a politician's job-approval ratings and favorability ratings. Favorability ratings generally represent a ceiling, above which job-approval ratings do not rise. And poor job-approval ratings, over the long term, can prove a drag on an incumbent's favorability ratings. A short-term drop in approval ratings doesn't portend a corresponding drop in personal favorability—but when favorable numbers begin to descend, it's an ominous sign for anyone planning to run for another term.

Polling consistently shows that the majority of Americans view Obama favorably, even while they increasingly disagree with his job performance. There is a nuance to voter sentiment, pollsters say, one that provides Obama with a path to reelection. But the disconnect between the two numbers, if it ever shrinks, could also become a leading indicator that the president's chances for a second term are headed south.

"I consistently find in focus groups that swing voters like Obama personally. But they feel let down by his policies. They believe he is working hard, but going in the wrong direction," said Glen Bolger, a Republican pollster at Public Opinion Strategies. Obama "is in danger, though, of becoming Jimmy Carter: Likeable, but unable to lead the country out of difficult times."

Americans are a forgiving people. Even when a voter's opinion of the president's job performance is sour, if that voter views the president favorably on a personal level, their opinion of his job-performance number can rise.

Bill Clinton offered a clear example; in 1994, Clinton's approval rating dropped to a low of 38 percent, as measured by the Pew Research Center. Clinton endured a period, from March 1994 to October 1995, during which his approval rating hit 50 percent only once. And yet, during that same period, his favorability rating stayed strong, starting around 58 percent and ending, after only a single dip below the 50 percent mark, at 56 percent in January 1996. Beginning with that January poll, Clinton's approval rating rebounded; by November, when he asked voters for a second term, his job-approval rate stood at 57 percent.

Throughout Clinton's term, his personal-favorability rating dropped below 50 percent only twice in Pew surveys. Even at the height of the impeachment debate, after Clinton had admitted to an affair, his approval ratings stayed in the high 50s. So long as Americans liked Clinton personally, his approval rating could rebound.

Story Continues Below Graphic

Infographic

A high personal-favorability rating can bolster a lousy job-approval rating. But once the personal rating falls, rehabilitating a president's professional image becomes much more difficult. Voters can decide they're simply done rooting for a president to succeed, as they did with Clinton's successor.

A string of bad news and federal government failures—starting with Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the spiraling chaos of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and political problems in Washington—sent George W. Bush's job-performance rating plummeting. His performance rating hit 50 percent in January 2005, just after he was reelected, and never reached the halfway mark again. The number of Americans who disapproved of his performance hit 52 percent in early September 2005, just after Katrina; it didn't fall below 52 percent for the rest of his tenure.

Americans began to view Bush as personally unfavorable at about the same time. A July 2005 Pew survey showed 51 percent of Americans had a favorable impression of the president. By late October, that number had sunk to 46 percent, then stayed in the high 30s for most of the rest of his term. Voters had had enough; Bush's job-approval rating led the way down, and once the favorable ratings followed, there was no way to recover politically.

A president's job approval ratings are far more dynamic than his personal favorable ratings, University of Wisconsin political scientist Charles Franklin said. That seems to suggest that personal feelings about an incumbent erode much more slowly than feelings about their job performance -- and are that much harder to rebuild. Bush's high favorable ratings after September 11th, and his subsequent lows after Hurricane Katrina, were slower to develop than his job approval zeniths and nadirs.

Obama's job-approval rating has followed the same track during his first term as Bush's did during the second term. His approval rating has hit the 50 percent mark in Pew surveys just four times since December 2009—and three of those times came within a month after Obama ordered the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Similarly, Obama's approval rating last hit the 50 percent mark in Gallup's daily tracking poll on June 6; about 10 weeks later, fewer than 40 percent of Americans view Obama favorably, Gallup has found.

For the moment, Obama's personal-favorability ratings have not followed the same downward trajectory. The most recent ratings from Gallup show 52 percent of Americans viewed Obama favorably in late April. Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, a Democratic polling firm that conducts research for Democracy Corps, asks the question much differently, but an early August study pegs Obama's favorability, rated as a temperature measure, as much warmer than either Republicans or Democrats.

"The president's job approval is dropping a good deal, whereas his personal ratings are not to anywhere near that extent," said Peter Brown, a pollster at Quinnipiac University. "If he were to become personally unpopular to the degree his policies are unpopular, he would have a very difficult time getting reelected. And it's hard to see how his personal numbers would rise without his job approval rising."

Obama's high personal-favorability ratings show swing voters are rooting for him to succeed, while his low job-performance rating demonstrates they don't like where he's going so far. If Obama's favorability ratings start sinking to match his approval numbers, it may be a sign that those critical independent voters have washed their hands of his presidency.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Government; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: approval; jobapproval; obama

1 posted on 08/18/2011 6:36:39 PM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

bump.


2 posted on 08/18/2011 6:38:04 PM PDT by ken21 (ruling class dem + rino progressives -- destroying america for 150 years.)
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To: SeekAndFind

Barbara Streisand.


3 posted on 08/18/2011 6:39:00 PM PDT by Galtoid ( .)
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To: SeekAndFind
Americans still overwhelmingly like the guy.

At 52%?

4 posted on 08/18/2011 6:41:47 PM PDT by Jagdgewehr (It will take blood)
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To: Jagdgewehr

RE: At 52%?

I think that’s the voting percentage he got from the popular vote in 2008.


5 posted on 08/18/2011 6:43:48 PM PDT by SeekAndFind (u)
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To: SeekAndFind

Blacks, Homo’s Liberals, view Obama favorably, because he is one of them .Democrats will vote for whoever the party puts in from of them, whether they like him or not.
That is the answer.

Hie likeability is zilch.


6 posted on 08/18/2011 6:48:08 PM PDT by Venturer
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To: SeekAndFind

Americans still overwhelmingly like the guy.


That’s the biggest bunch of crap I’ve heard since I last saw him on TV.


7 posted on 08/18/2011 6:50:00 PM PDT by unkus (Silence Is Consent)
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To: SeekAndFind

http://www.ntrc.info/doorbell.html


8 posted on 08/18/2011 6:52:31 PM PDT by hosepipe (This propaganda has been edited to include some fully orbed hyperbole...)
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To: unkus

This swanky vacation he is on should narrow the gap a bit.


9 posted on 08/18/2011 6:58:52 PM PDT by Truth is a Weapon (Truth, it hurts so good.)
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To: SeekAndFind

Nascent noobs hate the bastard.


10 posted on 08/18/2011 7:02:35 PM PDT by Gene Eric (Your Hope has been Redistributed. Here's your damn Change!)
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To: SeekAndFind

Beautiful graphs in visual display of quantitative information terms.


11 posted on 08/18/2011 7:03:56 PM PDT by bvw
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To: SeekAndFind
Hope the Mods don't throw me in the briar patch for reposting my early morning rant, but it seems apt here:

- - - - - -

In spite of being a communist fraud and puppet buttboy with no verifiable background, experience, or qualifications,
Øbama moved into 1600 only by 'virtue' of being (half) black.

His handlers cynically assessed the political climate and cashed in on:

1) idiotic white guilt
2) rampant black racism
3) massive electoral fraud
4) a voting population, a decisive % of whom are functionally illiterate or emotionally retarded or both.

End of.

12 posted on 08/18/2011 7:06:16 PM PDT by tomkat (1775)
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To: SeekAndFind

Many people don’t want to admit they don’t like him, not even to themselves, for fear of being a racist.


13 posted on 08/18/2011 7:30:57 PM PDT by Paradox (Obnoxious, Bumbling, Absurd, Maladroit, Assinine)
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To: SeekAndFind

Liked by?...and for what. Perhaps his Muslim Brotherhood staff still like him for his job of delivering them a Country.


14 posted on 08/18/2011 7:36:53 PM PDT by mcshot (Hey we're turning upside down compliments of career politicians.)
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To: SeekAndFind

Given how critical favorability ratings are to being a successful President, it’s hard to understand how the Founding Fathers neglected to include anything about it in Article II of the Constitution. Pretty negligent of them.


15 posted on 08/18/2011 7:43:02 PM PDT by Verginius Rufus
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To: Truth is a Weapon

This swanky vacation he is on should narrow the gap a bit.


One would think so. I mentioned him going to Martha’s Vineyard in the middle of all that’s happening to a lib at work today and she replied “Bush probably took twice as many vacations”. It’s unbelievable.


16 posted on 08/18/2011 7:45:01 PM PDT by unkus (Silence Is Consent)
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To: SeekAndFind
I think some people are afraid to say they don't like him because they could be branded a racist if they take a personal dislike to Obama. If this were a non-black president, I think the likability number would be lower. Honestly, what is there to like about this guy? He's a cold fish.
17 posted on 08/18/2011 7:45:43 PM PDT by Major Matt Mason (“I must confess, when I see anyone with an Obama 2012 bumper sticker, I recognize them as a threat")
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To: Verginius Rufus

RE: Given how critical favorability ratings are to being a successful President, it’s hard to understand how the Founding Fathers neglected to include anything about it in Article II of the Constitution. Pretty negligent of them.

_________________________________________________________________________________________

What’s should they have included? This I’d really like to read.


18 posted on 08/18/2011 7:52:45 PM PDT by SeekAndFind (u)
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To: SeekAndFind

I was being sarcastic. Of course they had no way of doing modern-style opinion polls in 1787. I just have gotten tired of the way the media acts like popularity ratings are the criterion whether a policy or decision is good or bad. When Clinton was shown to have lied under oath, we were supposed to ignore it because his popularity ratings were still high. When Bush had low ratings, that was supposed to discredit anything he did.


19 posted on 08/18/2011 7:58:45 PM PDT by Verginius Rufus
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To: Verginius Rufus
I was being sarcastic. Of course they had no way of doing modern-style opinion polls in 1787.

Why? Landlines hadn't been overtaken by cell phones yet! Back then, a simple autodialer with a router to a call center might have worked well for the Tories, as they tried to understand their internals!

20 posted on 08/18/2011 8:01:07 PM PDT by Lazamataz (SmithL stole my tagline and won't give it back.)
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To: SeekAndFind

I’m not so sure that I “like” this kind of metric...I can think of a lot of people who I did not like, but I respected, for their skills, leadership, deeds, and so forth.

I’ve voted more than once for someone whom I didn’t like.


21 posted on 08/18/2011 8:30:44 PM PDT by The Antiyuppie ("When small men cast long shadows, then it is very late in the day.")
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To: SeekAndFind

Of course he has favorability ratings. Who wouldn’t, with the daily positive PR grind of the lame-stream media working night and day. Remember how they relentlessly hammered Bush. It was non-stop.


22 posted on 08/18/2011 8:48:54 PM PDT by benvec
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To: SeekAndFind
"Americans still overwhelmingly like the guy."

Race card factor is strong.

23 posted on 08/18/2011 9:12:20 PM PDT by newzjunkey (circular firing squads are going to reelect obama)
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To: newzjunkey

It is losing steam fast in corporate America.


24 posted on 08/18/2011 9:15:27 PM PDT by eyedigress ((Old storm chaser from the west)?)
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