Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Obama Approval @ 47% But Don't Get Hysterical

In office less than a year, President Obama's approval rating has fallen to 47% according to the latest Gallup Poll.

It represents the lowest poll number for any President at this point during his term.

But let's not get hysterical about it.

George H.W. Bush had an approval rating of 71% at this point in his Presidency. Fat lot of good it did him.

Obama's numbers are comparable to Bill Clinton (52%), Harry Truman and Ronald Reagan (both at 49%). None of them were one term wonders.

Reagan's poll numbers are particularly instructive given that our economic woes are comparable to the ones he inherited when taking office in 1981. In some respects, it was worse. There was both double digit unemployment and inflation. Yet by 1984, it was Morning Again in America. We are a long way from 2012 and if the economy is tangibly better by that time it will be difficult for anyone to dislodge Obama.

The key to Obama's re-election is whether there's unity in the Democratic Party. If no one challenges him for the nomination in 2012 he is almost assured a second term. But if someone challenges him then he is in trouble. Even if Obama turns back the challenge it would likely cripple him during the election as was the case with Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and the aforementioned George H.W. Bush.

If Obama is challenged it would most likely be over Afghanistan. In which case I would keep an eye out for Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold.

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