Sunday, October 11, 2009

Obama's Unpopularity Analyzed

Now that el Presidente Obama has won the Norwegian Choice Award (“the Norgie”), it’s time to see what Americans think. . . you know, the people who hired him. Let’s analyze a few polls from Rasmussen, along with our own recent Commentarama poll. You may find this interesting. . .

The Great Polarizer

Obama’s approval rating is hovering right at 50%. But this figure hides the extreme feelings Obama engenders. Indeed, two thirds of Americans feel “strongly” about Obama one way or the other:
• Of the 50% that support Obama, “strongly approve” beats the more tepid “approve” by 32% to 18%. That’s almost 2 to 1.

• Of the 50% that disapprove, “strongly disapprove” beats mere “disapprove” by 35% to 15%. That’s slightly more than 2 to 1.
Thus, on either side, the feelings are rather intense. The reason for this strength of opinion could be that only 30% of Americans think Obama is acting in a bipartisan manner.

Our Commentarama Poll confirms this. While it's not surprising that 86% of you aren’t fans of Obama, it was surprising that 51% of you declared him the worst President ever. That's a surprisingly strong judgment given the total disaster that was Jimmy Carter.

When we asked you who is most happy with Obama, 73% of you indicated that the left was most happy with him, which fits with Rasmussen's finding that 71% of Americans think he’s a liberal (as compared to a moderate or conservative). This also suggests that Commentarama readers aren't convinced he's failed his supporters.

More interesting was your response when we asked who was the most unhappy with Obama. Of the four choices given, 64% of you responded with the center right or far right, and 34% of you responded with “the far left,” but only 2% of you responded with “the center left.” Indeed, the center left was the only choice to receive an insignificant number of votes. Thus, one can reasonably conclude that whatever Obama’s rhetoric, Commentarama readers believe that Obama has governed “center left,” not “far left.”

What We Have Here Is A Failure To Communicate

What is perhaps most interesting from the Commentarama poll was how few of you understand his policy goals. You are certainly a well informed audience and there is no doubt that you’re all attuned to politics. Thus, the idea that you don’t know what Obama’s policy goals are is telling. At the least, this represents a failure on his part to explain himself. But it could also mean that he has no real policies.

And when we say that you aren’t sure what his goals are, we mean it. Check out these numbers:
• 88% of you said you understand his health care reform goals. That sounds good until you realize that he’s been talking about health care reform for months -- even going so far as to outline his ideas in a national speech that most of you watched. Moreover, if you realize that 20% of you refused to answer this question (which we take as "none of the above"), that means only 59% of those who took the poll understand his goals.

• Only 51% of you claimed to understand his environmental goals. Though this falls to 35% when you factor in the “none of the aboves”.

• Only 33% (or 23%) of you claim to understand his goals for fixing the economy. Whatever his goals, 63% of you think this is the area where he’s failed the worst at achieving his goals

• Only 29% (or 20%) understand his education goals.

• Only 29% (or 20%) understand his foreign policy goals.
Perhaps fleshing these out would be a fertile area for future articles? Indeed, it might be a good idea to start breaking down his policy goals item by item? I’ll see what I can do.

Rasmussen: People Don’t Like What They Hear

Whatever Obama’s goals are, Americans do not agree with what they’re hearing from Obama. According to Rasmussen, only 31% of Americans believe the country is heading in the right direction. Here are some of the reasons:
Health Care Reform
• The Obamacrats have been pushing a public option, but 63% of Americans fear this will result in their being forced to give up their insurance coverage. And while Obama thinks getting a public option is more important than protecting existing coverage, only 29% agree with that.

• The Obamacrats promise not to raise taxes on anyone who makes less than $250,000 a year, but 72% of Americans expect such taxes will be raised. And 59% oppose such taxes.

• ObamaCare fines (and jails) anyone who does not buy insurance. Yet, 55% oppose such penalties.

• 54% of Americans favor a middle-class tax cut over new spending on health care.
Environmental Policy
• Obama has only a 43% approval rating on environmental issues.

• Only 35% of Americans favor cap and trade.

• 60% of Americans prefer finding new sources of energy to energy conservation.
Economic Policy
• Obama has only a 40% approval on economic issues, and only 29% of Americans trust Obama on economic issues more than they trust themselves.

• Team Obama assures us that the first stimulus worked and is now pushing for a second stimulus package. However, only 36% of Americans believe the stimulus helped the economy, and 62% oppose a second stimulus package.

• Nancy O’Pelosi is proposing a national sales tax to pay for various spending items, but 67% of Americans disapprove of a national sales tax.
Education Policy
• Good luck finding Obama’s education policy. So far, Obama wants students to spend more time in school. Yet, only 49% agree with him (37% disagree), and 65% would disagree with extending school to twelve months.
Foreign Policy
• Only 43% give Obama positive marks on national security.

• 55% expect the war in Afghanistan to get worse.

• 51% say that Obama has not been aggressive enough with Iran.

• Only 19% think that our relations with the Muslim world will improve.
General Perception
• 60% of Americans view society as fair and decent. But only 41% believe that Obama shares that view.

• Only 40% of Americans rate Obama excellent/good on the issue of ethics, and only 32% believe that he’s more ethical than most politicians.


So what do we make of this? Overwhelming majorities of Americans disagree with Obama on each of the key issues mentioned above. It is therefore no surprise that his popularity is low and that he is such a polarizing figure? If he does not address this disconnect very quickly he runs the risk of becoming a minority President (like Bush II became).

Indeed, when Obama ran, he made the statement that he didn’t just want to be the President of the Democrats, he wanted to be the President of everyone. Yet, he’s governing as if he represented only 40% of the population time and time again.

If he stays that course, he’ll have to change his nickname from “The One” to “One and Done.”

Note: We plan to do more polls in the future. We know that there are a great many more of you that read but who didn’t vote. Please make sure you vote. The more of you that vote the more interesting and representative the results. Also, please feel free to leave comments. We really do want to hear from all of you.


Tennessee Jed said...

Fascinating numbers to be sure, Andrew. Of course, like all numbers it's the drill down that ultimately tells the tale and you have done a fine job with that. Sometimes, answers raise even more questions. For example, I wonder if the 32% who strongly approve are the same 32% who believe he has governed in a bi-partisan manner.

The recap of the Commenterama is interesting as well. I tend to remember that when I answered questions in the poll, I was always wondering whether I should go with his stated agenda or his real agenda on any particular question. A good example is healthcare.

Obama really wants universal, single payer, government run whole kit and kaboodle, but his stated compromise is public option and he will take quasi public option with option to bait and switch.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Jed. You're right about the drill down. Unfortunately, polls rarely give you exactly what you want in the way of information -- like your question about the 32%/bipartisan figure. So we can often only guess.

If I had the money, I'd hire Rasmussen to run a poll for me. But I don't.

I've got some interesting ideas for future polls of our readers. Stay tuned.

LL said...

Part of the problem with Obama is that there has been a flip-flop on almost all issues. He's for putting all Americans into a single payer system - then he's "against" a single payer system. He plans to prosecute the War in Afghanistan with vigor - then he's not even talking to his generals and seems more interested in 'don't ask/don't tell' issues.

I follow politics and I THINK I know where Obama is headed, but listening to what he says isn't the key to understanding this guy.

And Yes, I'll think he'll take the dunce cap from Carter (who was a horrible president).

Individualist said...

Education was a difficult one as well. In the end I voted no I did not understand.

This was because in the end singing praises to Obama did not really rate as eduction in my eyes.

I could be wrong!

AndrewPrice said...

LL, You have a point. He does seem to keep changing his mind (at least in rhetoric) whenever he runs into resistance. I'm going to go through the issues and outline what he's said in writing and what he's confirmed recently. Maybe we'll get an understanding, maybe we won't?

Will he be worse than Carter? Could be. He's certainly in the running. I gave him a D so far.

AndrewPrice said...

Individualist, LOL! I'm sure he thinks that counts! I don't know yet that he has a plan for education. We'll see. As I told LL, I'm going to walk through the issues and see what I can find.

LawHawkSF said...

Andrew: I think Obama has, at best, a general concept of a Chamberlain-like foreign policy and a euro-socialist domestic policy. His problem is that he has no executive experience, cannot make a decision of any kind without agonizing followed by vague half-measures, he can't learn from his mistakes because he doesn't believe he's ever made one, and he believes so much in the power of the spoken word that he has abandoned action entirely in favor of platitudes. That is not a leader. That is an educated bleating sheep. I know what he would like to see, but I haven't the vaguest idea from any of his nebulous plans how he intends to accomplish it. Thus, I vote "mystified."

Writer X said...

Andrew, what I found very interesting (and telling) is the Rasmussen results on ethics. Only 32% believe he's more ethical than most politicians? Let's remember that the bar on politicians is hardly very high! To me, the ethics question points to trust as well. You can't say one thing (Example: Healthcare. "You can keep your insurer," says Pres. Obama with a big toothy smile) but then tapes are uncovered that show him very clearly stating he won't rest until we have a single-payer/governmental health care system.

I think in 9 short months he's completely blown the trust factor out of the water. If only 32% of the people think he's more ethical than other politicians, than that means there are plenty of people from either party who don't trust their president.

AndrewPrice said...

Writer X, I found that one interesting as well. When he was elected everyone on the left and most in the middle saw him as something different. I think they were honestly ready to see him as the infallible second coming.

But, as you note, in nine months he's entirely lost that. It's really pretty amazing if you think about it.

In the end, I think the real problems come down to the fact that he presented himself as a blank canvas during the election and let everyone draw their own hopes onto that canvas. We he wasn't able to keep those promises, I think they felt particularly betrayed rather than just disappointed.

In other words, he let them build him into a hero and when he failed, the failure was amplified by their emotional investment.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, I think you're absolutely right on this. He has vague ideas of what he wants, but no idea how to get there.

And his team seems incredibly incapable of filling in the vision for him.

It's like he's a bus driver sitting in LA, knowing that he needs to head "East" to get to DC, but doesn't know much more than that, and none of his passengers thought to bring a map.

Writer X said...

Andrew, exactly right, I would have more sympathy for the President if he hadn't played right along with the unreasonable expectations. His ego is clearly too large for him ever to recognize the importance of being humble and grateful. He's never had to be any of these things.

AndrewPrice said...

Writer X, I agree.

Case in point: the Norgie. He should have said, "I'm flattered, but I haven't done anything yet that I feel warrants the award, so I need to turn it down." People would have been thrilled. But he can't stop playing into the "I'm a genius" motiff.

Oh well, life has a way of giving us what we deserve.

CrisD said...

lol on "Norgie" !!!!
I agree with Tennesssee Jed stated or not I think I know his policies by what I have seen (not heard).
I voted that I understood President Obama's policy's b/c if he can't get public option, he'll get part and get that later
2.fixing economy:borrow and give another stimulus and tax us all into a crippling situation where gov't has to take over and regulate more and more of private industry.! That tape of the teacher teaching the "Obama loves the little children" hymn is part and parcel of what the leftists want. He wants them doing it on weekends and year round! And giving teachers more pay, etc.
4.foreign policy:Apologize, be "nice", surrender whenever you can.

AndrewPrice said...

CrisD, I think "Norgie" is somehow appropriate.

I think it's very wise to judge based on what you see rather than what he says, because it's actions that ultimately matter -- not words. And you're right about describing his "policies." I'm not sure there really is much more to it than that, at least from what I've seen so far.

StanH said...

Great synopsis Andrew, and “Norgie” is perfect. I know what Barry is going to do because I’ve heard his ‘60s radical tripe for forty years. So when you ask do we understand the Healthcare bill, it’s doesn’t have anything to do with what Barry has said, I already know, socialism. The same for defense, or his Afghanistan problem if you will , just listen to Witless Joe Biden. The same goes for any of his policies, he’s a creation of ‘60s radicalism, a Manchurian Candidate of sorts. I think that it was OldTom over a BH some months ago said, to paraphrase, “can’t you imagine Axelrod waiting off stage right with a box that Barry climbs into and shuts down until the next speech. That’s was why your poll had some surprises, we’re not clairvoyant, but older and know what’s coming from experience. My two cents!

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Stan. I thought "Norgie" sounded about right.

I think you're right about Team Obama's instincts being 60's radicalism -- I'm not sure Obama himself has any real views except ego -- but I don't think they have a clue how to implement their ideas.

When I look through the policy positions they've addressed, it really has been just the tribalism I outlined the other day.

MegaTroll said...

Glad to see that America shares my beliefs!

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