According to the new Gallup daily tracking poll, President Obama has seen approval rating surge. Since December 15, Obama has gained a net 12 points in the poll.
In the poll taken from December 21- December 23, respondents narrowly approve of Obama 47%-45%. This is big swing from the poll taken December 13- 15, which found Obama at net (-10) approval rating, (41%-51%). The President has gained 6 points in approval and lost 6 points in disapproval since the first day of the previous polling cycle 13 days ago. This marks the first time since June 17-19 that Obama has been in positive territory in the Gallup daily tracking poll.
Daily tracking polls are particularly tricky, and at best only provide a momentary snapshot of how a respondent feels about an election or a president on a given day, but Gallup also gives us the ability to compare presidents at the same point in their terms.
Obama often gets compared to Jimmy Carter, but an analysis of the Gallup data for both Carter and Obama shows that the two presidents don’t have much in common. During the October of their third year of their administrations, both Carter and Obama suffered through woeful months.
Jimmy Carter had a 29% approval rating in early October 1979, but during same time period in his administration Obama’s approval rating was 40%. Towards the middle of the month, Obama’s approval rating was 10 points better than Carter’s 41%-31%. At the end of October/early November, Obama was 9 points stronger than Carter, 41%-32%. Carter got a rally around the flag bounce at the beginning of the Iran Hostage Crisis in November 1979, but as the crisis lingered on it took Carter down with it.
If Obama isn’t Jimmy Carter and his approval rating isn’t following the trends of Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan, what’s going on here? Al Hunt recently wrote a piece for Bloomberg that helped to shed a bit of light on what may be happening. Hunt found that the popularity of the challenging party factors in to a president’s odds of reelection. Hunt wrote, “Today, a plethora of polls shows both parties are held in low regard by the electorate, but the Republicans consistently do worse. They have been on a steady decline throughout this year. The explanation Republican politicians give for this slide is instructive. National politicos say congressional Republicans are to blame; on Capitol Hill, there’s a lot of finger-pointing at the presidential candidates.”
Hunt’s point was that by trying to stop Obama at any cost, the Republican Party has made itself so unpopular that they are putting Obama in the driver’s seat to win reelection.
The recent payroll tax cut extension debacle lends credibility to Hunt’s point. Whether it was the manufactured debt ceiling crisis or the battle to extend the Bush tax cuts, Republicans have been successful at taking their pound of political flesh from Obama, but every time they have used this strategy to harm the president they have also injured themselves.
The GOP’s plan to destroy Obama contained a fatal flaw. Republicans never considered that President Obama started out more popular than they were. He could afford to take some damage. They couldn’t. By not considering the consequences of their actions on their own political future, congressional Republicans have made this Congress the most unpopular ever.
Obama’s approval ratings are surging for a simple reason. He is talking about things that the American people want done. Every time Republicans ignore the will of the people, they strengthen Obama and weaken themselves.
Obama is getting more popular because of a better message, an improving economy, personal likability, and an opposition party that stubbornly refuses to do anything that the American people want.
Obama isn’t Jimmy Carter, and the Republicans aren’t Ronald Reagan. Obama is surging, and the GOP is sinking under the weight of their own failures, which means that the these polls could be the first potential omens that point towards Barack Obama being reelected.