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Polling Numbers You Can Believe In by Craig Covello
Yesterday, Rasmussen Reports published the latest presidential approval index. This index is the sum of two numbers, those that strongly approve minus those that strongly disapprove of the president’s performance. You may recall that Obama scored negative 15 on January 3. It dropped to negative 19 on February 22. As of yesterday, it stands at negative 20.
Clearly these presidential approval index numbers are not good, but let’s look at it from a different vantage point using simple approval percentages. When Obama took office, 65% of Americans approved of his job performance, which technically had no track record at the time. Today, that approval rating has dropped to 45%. In fact, this number has dropped faster for Obama than any other president in his first year in office.
Still, polling numbers are similar to statistics. They can be easily manipulated to support a variety of agendas, both pro and con, depending upon the questions asked and the time frame involved, So let’s put this into historical context. The Wall Street Journal published presidential approval ratings from 1946 through 2006. The results may surprise you.
It becomes obvious that Obama’s approval, which ranges between 65% and 45%, looks about average when compared to the huge swings experienced by several past presidents. So what conclusion can we draw? Not much, unless you consider that our liberal Congress’s approval rating has dropped to 16%. This is only two points above the record low of 14% that Gallup poll measured in July 2008. It begs the question of how the president’s approval rating can be 45% while Congress stands at 16%? Some would argue that people are upset with the Republicans, but polls show that a majority of Americans do not agree with the Democrat’s liberal agenda, particularly with respect to the pending health care legislation. Here some other possibilities to consider:
There are still a lot of people in this country that are not paying attention to what the president says, who he surrounds himself with and his ideology, which appears to include a disdain for the United States Constitution.
That same population may be clinging to Obama’s campaign promise of “hope and change”. Reality has not set in yet.
People are desperate for answers and are looking for help from the government regarding their own financial situation. They are not interested in ideology, the Constitution, legal process or history.
That last point was illustrated yesterday when I flew myself to Oakland airport for a business meeting. During the trip, I had the opportunity to talk to a guy named Angelo who drives the courtesy van which took me to my final destination. Angelo is a gentleman in his 60s. He immigrated to this country years ago and seems to be “old-school” regarding his politics and his work ethic. He believes in self-reliance, family and most of the other traditional American values that seem to be under assault today. I spoke to him about all the rancor surrounding the proposed health care legislation in Washington. He admitted that he was in favor of Obama care. As we discussed his reasoning, a clearer picture developed. Angelo does not get any information from the Internet. I assume most of what he knows about politics is based on newspaper articles and television. He’s not interested in the federal deficit and doesn’t pay much attention to how much the United States spends on interest rates in order to borrow a dollar. He didn’t have much to say about the unethical behavior of Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi or dozens of others in Congress. No, Angelo is concerned about the rising cost of his own health insurance and how it has impacted his paycheck.
I can’t blame him, but here’s the point: People still believe that Obama has their best interests at heart and will provide for them in areas of their life that they think are beyond their ability to control. This view suggests a real desperation among our citizenry. It’s easy to vilify a large group like Congress, but it becomes harder to objectively criticize a charismatic president when people believe that he is their last hope. When you have that mindset, it’s difficult to accept that this president will only help you in exchange for relinquishing your liberties and God-given rights. This is dictatorship 101. And it works.
President Obama’s approval ratings will remain higher than congress’s ratings until those of us still in denial finally realize that all the campaign promises have been broken and they are financially and emotionally worse off under this president and then they were under the last president. It may take another year or two, but that realization will occur. When it does, Obama will exit his presidency in similar fashion to Harry Truman, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush. They all had approval ratings at or below 30% when leaving office. Those are the polling numbers we can believe in.
Copyright 2010 by Craig Covello. Used with Permission. All Rights Reserved