When President Obama’s job-approval rating dipped below 50% for the first time during Thanksgiving week last year, some observers concluded that the long honeymoon the new president had enjoyed with voters had finally come to an end. Presidents who can’t elicit at least a 50% approval rating from the electorate typically fare poorly in mid-term elections, and right now polling data are pointing to a major setback for the Democrats in November.
However, the trend against Democrats isn’t being led by presidential approval ratings — at least, not according to the RealClearPolitics polling averages. Obama’s approval level today stands pretty much where it did when he sat down to Thanksgiving dinner. In fact, it has barely changed at all over the last six months, moving in a narrow range between 47% and 49%, while typically averaging 48%.
That is remarkable consistency when you consider how many major developments have unfolded that might have shifted sentiment. Among other things, the White House has announced a surge of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, national health insurance has been passed by Congress, the stock market has suffered a sizable decline, BP has unleashed the biggest oil spill in U.S. history, and two abortive terrorist attacks have occurred within U.S. borders.
The fact that none of these events moved the meter on President Obama’s job approval suggests the electorate has made up it mind on the 44th President of the United States. The good news for Obama is that about half of voters like the job he is doing so much that a spate of bad news doesn’t change their assessment of him. The bad news is that the other half of the electorate is more likely to turn out for the mid-terms.
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