Thursday, February 4, 2010

Commentarama Poll Analyzed

As you may recall, we recently ran our second quarterly Commentarama Poll to grade Obama and the Republicans. . . which sounds like a bad fairy tale, or a fifties rock band. Seventy-eight of you answered, and the results are interesting. Let’s discuss.

If I could use only one word to sum up the changes in the recent poll from the first quarterly Commentarama Poll (here and here), I would say “pessimism.” As a group, you seem even less enamored of Obama, and you think he is less likely to achieve his goals. You are more positive on the Republicans than you were, but you clearly aren’t anywhere near sold yet.

Grading Obama
We began by asking you to grade Obama on the typical A-F scale. Fifty-eight percent of you gave him an F, which is slightly more than the 55% who did last time. Those extra three percent came from the group that gave him a D last time. Combined 83% of you gave him a D or an F in both polls.

What was more interesting was the drop in support among the 15% of you who approve of Obama (15%. . . see, I told you not everyone who reads Commentarama is a conservative). In our first poll, 1% gave him an A, 7% gave him a B and 7% gave him a C. But 4% of you have now dropped you grade from B to C, with 11% giving him a C and only 3% now giving him a B. If we assume that you are representative of liberals at large -- and, yes, I do recognize that you aren’t for many reasons, e.g. you read this site and our poll isn’t statistically significant -- but if we assume that you are, then your downgrading him represents a drop in support among his supporters of 27%. If that translates into lost intensity, then the Democrats are in serious trouble.

By the way, if you gave Obama an A, I would sincerely like to hear your reasoning, as I would have assumed that you would be upset that he hasn’t managed to achieve his goals?
Understanding Obama
Along with Obama’s fall in popularity, Commentarama readers now report being even less sure of what exactly Obama wants to achieve. We asked you to tell us in which areas you thought you understood what Obama’s policy goals are. Many of you noticed that we did not include a “none of the above” option. We did that because it would have been too easy for people to just check that box. Soooooo, like you did with the first poll, you made your own "none of the above" option by not voting. Indeed, 32 of you chose not to answer.

If we leave you out for the moment, then Obama’s best result came in health care where 80% of you claimed to understand his goals, though this is down from 92% in our prior poll. Of the seven goals we listed, this was the only one to exceed 50%. His next two best understood goals were environmental policy, down from 56% to 45%, and foreign policy, which was the only goal to go up -- from 39% to 47%. None of that speaks well for Obama's ability to communicate his goals.

But it gets worse. If we factor in the non-voters as a “none of the above” vote, the number of people claiming to understand Obama’s policies gets downright horrible:
48% Health Care Reform
28% Foreign Policy
27% Environmental Protection
20% Fixing the Economy/Job Creation
18% Deficit Reduction
16% Education
What we have here is a failure to communicate! Actually, I don’t think so. I’ve outlined several of these areas now in the Obama Agenda posts, not to mention in our regular articles. Thus, if it was just a simple matter of understanding his agenda, these numbers should be a lot higher. But they aren’t. Plus, take a look at these changes from last time:
+8% Foreign Policy
-11% Environmental Protection
-11% Fixing the Economy/Job Creation
-12% Health Care Reform
-12% Education
Why would your knowledge of his agenda fall over time if this was just a failure of communication? It shouldn’t. I suspect the problem is more likely that Obama’s actions have not been consistent with his words and this is leaving people confused about what he wants to achieve. I further suspect that his constant retreats aren’t helping.
Obama’s Chance of Success
You are also significantly less positive about Obama’s ability to achieve his goals. In October, only 18% of you felt that Obama wouldn’t achieve any of the goals we identified by 2012. That number has now risen to 44%!!!

According to Commentarama readers, the goal he is most likely to obtain is financial regulation, with 38% of you saying he will get that. The second most achievable goal is some face saving version of ObamaCare at 30%. But this is down from 66% last time! Indeed, in each area, you are now much more pessimistic about his chances. Take a look at the percentage point drop for each:
-36% A face saving version of ObamaCare (66% to 30%)
-18% Cap and Trade (22% to 4%)
-9% An immigration amnesty (26% to 17%)
-7% An assault weapon’s ban (18% to 11%)
-6% Card check for the unions (18% to 12%
-3% ObamaCare (5% to 2%)
And only 7% of you thought he could achieve any sort of debt reduction (which wasn’t on the original poll).

All of this translates into a dramatic drop in how you grade his ability to achieve his goals. None of you gave him an A in that regard, only 2 percent gave a B, and only 9% gave him a C. The other 89% gave him a D or an F. If we compare this to how you rated his efforts in October assuming you were one of his supporters, this again represents a significant drop both among supporters and non-supporters. At that point, 28% gave him an A, B or C, with 6% actually giving him an A.

Thus, not only do you not understand what he wants to achieve, but you are increasingly likely to think he can’t get what he wants. If I were Obama, I would repackage my agenda to something smaller, easier to grasp, and easier to obtain. Success breeds success, failure breeds failure.
Obama’s Blunders
We also asked you to rate what you though was Obama’s most embarrassing failure to date. The winner, at 34%, was his missteps with his appointments. But economic matters actually came in a little higher when they were combined: combining the 22% who chose the deficit and the 17% who said jobs, economic concerns came in at 39%.

Interestingly, the other issues didn’t resonate nearly as much. Only 10% of you named Copenhagen, showing that you don’t see his environmental failure as that embarrassing. Another 10% of you mentioned his retreats on ObamaCare. And only 5% named China (none said Honduras), leading me to conclude that foreign policy remains the red-headed step child unless a war goes wrong.

Thus, if I were a Republican looking to heat up the base, I would certainly not forget to mention his appointments along with his economic problems, but I would probably skip the foreign policy stuff, the environmental stuff, and I would attack ObamaCare as a tax increase rather than pointing out his inability to stand by any part of it.
The Republicans
The Republican leadership improved dramatically in your eyes since October, though they still have a long way to go. When we asked you to grade them, only 5% of you gave them passing marks and another 66% felt they were starting to get it. Twenty-eight percent of you felt they were hopeless. That number has now dropped to 20% and the number of A’s has increased to 18%. Within the “starting to get it” category, we added an intermediate level -- “almost there.” Twenty-one percent of you chose that. This means that 39% of you now say that they are there or almost there, with another 39% of you saying they’re getting there. Those aren’t great numbers yet, but they are marked improvement.

You are also more positive that the Republicans will retake some parts of the government in November. Indeed, when we asked in October, 27% of you thought the Republicans wouldn’t get either the House or the Senate. This number has now fallen to 14%. Combining the other numbers, 44% of you think the Republicans will take the Senate and 76% think the Republicans will retake the House. A full 36% of you believe the Republicans will get both the House and Senate.

What this tells me is that the Republicans still need to close the deal. I would recommend something that allows them to break from the past, like a short simple ten point platform that defines who they want to be. . . and I would make it very attractive to the Tea Party people.


11 comments:

LawHawkSF said...

Andrew: "Chances of Success" This is strictly my personal opinion, and I'm not sure how it fits into the poll exactly. As of today, I would give him a low-medium chance of succeeding in getting an altered version of any of his programs passed (the zombie-like, won't ever die health care mess seems to be back on the table).

I would switch to high-medium on the sole issue of regulation, particularly financial regulation. There are still too many people who actually think that the government knows anything at all about how businesses should be run, let alone run at a profit (that dirty word). The public clearly doesn't want the federal government running businesses, but there's a certain inertia about regulation, despite the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac fiascos.

I'm also concerned that the lefties combined with the traditional pro-labor Democrats will get some form of pro-labor legislation passed, even if it isn't in the direct form of card check.

Finally, I gingerly predict that cap 'n tax is dead on arrival. It is on its face regulatory, but that doesn't fool anybody. It's a massive transfer of wealth and a drug on the economy which enriches only alarmist power-brokers like Al Gore, and is supported by some of the most politicized junk science of all time. The American people can be misled, but they're not either stupid or blind.

Tennessee Jed said...

Although a relatively small and non-random sample, the results are always interesting. I will take this opportunity to mention I am heading to Maui in a few days and will be gone most of the month, and I don't do mobile net, so I'll be back in late February.

MegaTroll said...

Interesting that you get 15% of Obama's supporters. I guess you aren't a fringe site after all! Ha! Cool to see so many people answered too. Normally you just see a handful of votes at most websites.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, Sounds like fun! Have a good time. We'll miss your comments around here -- spread the word in Hawaii for us! ;-)

Seriously, have a good time!

AndrewPrice said...

Mega, I thought that was interesting. It's been consistent too between the polls, so I guess we do have 15% non-conservatives. That's great! I hope they participate more.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, You may not be surprised that once again we disagree! LOL! I think he will definitely get financial regulation, but it won't be his bill. It's going to be whatever bill is produced by Barney Frank and Chris Dodd in conjunction with Goldman Sachs.

I also think that he's got a very good shot of getting cap and trade because he's offering to bribe the nuclear industry, which means there will be Republican support.

I'm not worried about health care -- in fact, I'm thinking of putting together an article on the alternatives on that.

StanH said...

Interesting results Andrew, I too would like to hear from the person that gave Barry an A. Perhaps someone being silly?

AndrewPrice said...

Stan, I don't think so. About 15% of the voters did support him and I suspect that the "A" is genuine. I'm just curious why?

LawHawkSF said...

Andrew: Since half the Obama administration came from Goldman-Sachs, it will at least be a joint effort (which could also mean they each light a joint before starting to draft the regulations).

I still think the coal and oil industries will fight mightily to block any cap 'n tax plan that doesn't bribe them as well. Republicans who go along with any of these schemes are forgetting the public that is no longer going to allow itself to be robbed for the benefit of industries which will provide them little or no direct benefit. I'm not convinced that Obama himself could survive the assault from the left wing of his party for encouraging nuclear power. Nuclear power, something I want to see plenty of, does not create and sustain nearly as many jobs (and many of those are government jobs) as oil and coal production, and produces nearly no related businesses. But it was one of the very few good parts of his state of the union speech.

With the restrictions on political advertising by corporations removed, get ready to watch for massive advertising campaigns repeating the popular refrain "drill now," and promoting clean-coal power production, which Obama finally admitted actually exists. Best of all, they can remind the public that they can't fuel their automobiles with uranium (at least not for the next century). That has the double advantage of domestic oil producing huge amounts of American-based energy while diminishing our passion for destroying our economy buying oil from the sheikhs who pay for much of the terrorist activity aimed at our shores.

I also think that Obama has realized that the only thing worse for him among Democratic voters than getting something on health care, is getting nothing on health care. I still don't give it more than a 40-45% chance of passage, but he is not going to give up on it.

Writer X said...

Interesting results and analysis!

Instead of repackaging his agenda/talking points, the President has now resorted to talking about how difficult his job is and how he "didn't really want it" in the first place. Obama is not exactly a leader who instills a lot of confidence, especially when the chips are down.

The Republicans' best leaders are still too few and far between.

AndrewPrice said...

Writer X, It's funny, but Obama seems to have gone from fake-bipartisan to attacking/blame shifting to whining, all in one week. If our results are representative, then that's not going to help him because his problem is quickly becoming one of people not knowing what he stands for. Blaming Bush and accusing others of not helping isn't going to change that.

As for the Republicans, our readers agree with you -- getting much better, but still have a long way to go. That's why I think they probably need some sort of "contract with America" to push them over the top.

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