Times Joe Klein writes a little ditty called Sky Still Not Falling, which explains how President Obama should not be concerned with his lowest ever approval ratings.
Klein makes many valid points: too-frequent polls result in a short-term understanding of what should be longer-term trends. True. And that most politicians right now are enjoying as bad or even worse poll numbers. Also true. And he implies that commenting on polls is an easy substitute for real journalism. If indeed Mr. Klein believes that, hes dead-on-the-money freaking right.
But he tends to stop thinking. There are some long term trends worth contemplating that result from repeated short-term poll trends. And some further thought is in order.
First, an approval rating reflects only on the Presidents hyper-versus-job performance. In this arena, we talk about how well the President is doing his job, and Mr. Klein turns a blind eye toward the Presidents continuous trek downward for the last 19 months. This does mean something: it means that for a President that was so glowingly received by his fans and his media and his fawning bureaucrats, he is doing a crappy job. A spike up and down would mean something else; a sweep downward and bounce upward would mean something further. But he came in with fairly low numbers and continues to collapse.
Second, an approval rating is not a likeability factor. Fact is, the President still enjoys enormous popularity. This explains some of the lower numbers for Republicans and other Democrats. In essense, liberals and Democrats and progressive-lefty types will still vote for the guy if the election were held today; that does not mean they approve of the job he does. Most of them, the polls suggest, would like to see him do a better job even though they would still vote for him.
Third, Klein says the President should disregard his low numbers. After all, Republicans are facing a mere 28% approval rating. While true, Klein fails to consider that this number describes incumbents. This has long been the case: nearly every American wants the incumbents voted out…except for their guys. In other words, the typical American typically desires to see 98 Senators thrown out, and 434 Representatives chucked out the door, because voting records show that same American will absent-mindedly vote to retain his Senators and Representative. How else does one explain the long-term incumbencies of total morons like Barney Frank, Arlen Spector, and the late Robert Byrd?
So, in short, the average American strongly desires to see the incumbents shown the door: and this is where the polls show the Democrats to be in real trouble. Klein does not consider the polling numbers for candidates, which are so strongly tilted right that even Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid had to meet with President Obama about muzzling Robert Gibbs. The Czar did not expect to see the day in which he agreed with Speaker Pelosi on anything.
But the final unasked, and therefore unanswered, question is whether the President should be troubled by low approval ratings. Klein states that a 47% approval rating is pretty good (although the actual number is 43-45%), placing Obama below the historical averages of Carter, Ford, Nixon, and (gasp) Bush 43.
President Obama is disliked by more than half the country, right at the launch of what is certain to be the most aggressive campaign by his opponents in recent memory. Would Klein propose a better time for the President to be clawing at his hair?
Божію Поспѣшествующею Милостію Мы, Дима Грозный Императоръ и Самодержецъ Всероссiйскiй, цѣсарь Московскiй. The Czar was born in the steppes of Russia in 1267, and was cheated out of total control of all Russia upon the death of Boris Mikhailovich, who replaced Alexander Yaroslav Nevsky in 1263. However, in 1283, our Czar was passed over due to a clerical error and the rule of all Russia went to his second cousin Daniil (Даниил Александрович), whom Czar still resents. As a half-hearted apology, the Czar was awarded control over Muscovy, inconveniently located 5,000 miles away just outside Chicago. He now spends his time seething about this and writing about other stuff that bothers him.