Barack Obama Poll Numbers and the Midterm Elections

Over at Pollster, President Barack Obama is starting the new year with a collective average job approval that is a net negative (48.1% disapprove to 48.0% approve). If you filter out Rassmussen and internet polls, Obama climbes to 50.4% approval (see Nate Silver on the Rassmussen dustup).

Some of the "clap louder" crowd have recently taken to arguing that Obama's 80% approval ratings among Democrats means that Obama doesn't have a base problem. But is looking at approval among all Democrats an adequate way to measure Obama's "base" support? The following numbers put some context around how many Democrats actually constitute the base:

The most basic definition for "base" is the people who help you win elections. But there are lots of ways to quantify that. If by "base" you mean "email list total" then 18% of the people who voted for Obama are part of the base. If you mean contributors, then less than 6% of those who voted for Obama are part of the base. If you mean volunteers, it drops down to just over 2%.

In short, the Obama "base" is a very small percentage of the national political landscape and there is little reason to believe that national polls of Democrats represent the base. For instance, even if every single person on Obama's email list was a Democrat, every single one could disapprove of Obama according to the poll numbers Administration supporters are citing as showing Obama is in good shape.

"Base" isn't a measure of political breadth, but of political depth.

So is Obama in good shape? And is what is good for Obama's poll numbers also good for Democrats heading into the midterms?

Is Obama in good shape?

Professor Drew Westen, in a must read piece, articulated how the same problems that are hurting Obama with the base are what is hurting with independents. A perfect political storm heading into the midterms.

Somehow the president has managed to turn a base of new and progressive voters he himself energized like no one else could in 2008 into the likely stay-at-home voters of 2010, souring an entire generation of young people to the political process. It isn't hard for them to see that the winners seem to be the same no matter who the voters select (Wall Street, big oil, big Pharma, the insurance industry). In fact, the president's leadership style, combined with the Democratic Congress's penchant for making its sausage in public and producing new and usually more tasteless recipes every day, has had a very high toll far from the left: smack in the center of the political spectrum.

What's costing the president and courting danger for Democrats in 2010 isn't a question of left or right, because the president has accomplished the remarkable feat of both demoralizing the base and completely turning off voters in the center. If this were an ideological issue, that would not be the case. He would be holding either the middle or the left, not losing both.

What's costing the president are three things: a laissez faire style of leadership that appears weak and removed to everyday Americans, a failure to articulate and defend any coherent ideological position on virtually anything, and a widespread perception that he cares more about special interests like bank, credit card, oil and coal, and health and pharmaceutical companies than he does about the people they are shafting.

The problem is not that his record is being distorted. It's that all three have more than a grain of truth. And I say this not as one of those pesky "leftists." I say this as someone who has spent much of the last three years studying what moves voters in the middle, the Undecideds who will hear whichever side speaks to them with moral clarity.

While Obama has been failing inside the White House, the much touted "game-changer" of Organizing for America has been failing inside the DNC. Micah Sifry explained:

In The Audacity to Win, Plouffe writes often of an "enthusiasm gap" that he saw between Obama's supporters and the other Democratic candidates, notably Clinton. Back then, there was plenty of evidence to support Plouffe's claim: Obama was surging on all the online social networks, his videos were being shared and viewed in huge numbers, and the buzz was everywhere. We certainly wrote about it often here on techPresident. Now, there is a new enthusiasm gap, but it's no longer in Obama's favor. That's because you can't order volunteers to do anything--you have to motivate them, and Obama's compromises to almost every powers-that-be are tremendously demotivating. The returns OFA is getting on email blasts appear to be dropping significantly, for example. "“People are frustrated because we have done our part,” one frustrated Florida Obama activist told the Politico. “We put these people in the position to make change and they’re not doing it.” (See also this petition from 400 former Obama staffers.) DC insiders may blame the fickle media, or the ugliness of the cable/blog chatter, or the singleminded Republican opposition, for the new enthusiasm gap. These are all certainly factors. But I suspect that when the full history of Obama's presidency is written, scholars may decide that his team's failure to devote more attention to reinventing the bully pulpit in the digital age, and to carrying over more of the campaign's grassroots energy, may turn out to be pivotal to evaluations of Obama's success, or failure, as president.

At this point, it is hard to claim Obama has had a good first year. As Westin noted, "it would be hard to name a single thing President Obama has done domestically that any other Democrat wouldn't have done if he or she were president following George W. Bush (e.g., signing the children's health insurance bill that Congress is about to gut to pay for worse care for kids under the health insurance exchange, if it ever happens), and there's a lot he hasn't done that every other Democrat who ran for president would have done." And as Sifry made clear in a follow up piece, Obama could have done so much more.)

Extending beyond "the base" (no matter how you want to quantify it), there are real worries of an enthusiasm gap among the people who surged to the polls to elect Obama and take back congress. This isn't what you want to see:

In the best evidence to date that the Democratic leadership is going to have to do an immense amount of outreach to their base in 2010, the highest percentage of Democrats to date (45%) indicated this week that they are either unlikely to vote, or certain not to vote. The number indicating a likelihood to vote has held reasonably steady (at 54%) since Daily Kos started polling on this question in late November.

The GOP fervor for voting has receded ever so slightly, but still towers over the Democrats in terms of voter intensity. The spread for the GOP stands at 75% likely/21% unlikely.

In campaigns, you solidify your base for the resources to turn out the vote. If the base is demoralized and GOTV is made more difficult by a large enthusiasm gap, then Democrats are in serious trouble.

Is what is good for Obama's poll numbers also good for Democrats heading into the midterms?

If the slight uptick in Obama's poll numbers continues, is it good news for Democrats? Right now, the conventional wisdom is that what is good for Obama is good for Democrats, as Time recently encapsulated:

With the President's approval rating now dipping below 50% in most polls, Democratic pollsters have begun to sound the alarm. In a recent public memo, Celinda Lake, of Lake Research Partners, pointed to a sobering statistic: Presidents with approval ratings below 50% have lost an average of 41 House seats in mid-term elections. (Democrats currently have an 81-seat advantage in the House, so Republicans could gain control of the chamber with a 41-seat pick-up in 2010.)

Yet it remains to be seen if rising Obama poll numbers would be a good thing for Democrats in the midterms.

If Obama were leading the Democratic Party in accomplishing good things that made voters' lives better, an increase in Obama numbers could be seen as a sign that Obama could have coattails, that his popularity would bring Democrats along for the ride.

Unfortunately, Obama seems to be pursuing a different strategy. Instead of leading Democrats, Obama is triangulating against the Democratic base. This became clear in the administration's failure on health care turning into attacks on the left.

For Obama, health care seems to be following a model of raising the president's approval at the expense of depressing the base during the midterms. Everyone on the ballot this fall with a 'D' after their name should be alarmed by this:

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel has been telling Democrats a win on the health issue will reverse the slide in public opinion, just as passage of another controversial proposal, the North American Free Trade Agreement, lifted President Bill Clinton in the polls.

This is triangulation at it's worst. This is personal gain at the expense of the party.

There is a reason Obama campaigned on the public option and against mandates, instead of vice-versa. Same with his pledge not to raise taxes on the middle class. Yet now, instead of Democrats being able to campaign on the popular public option, Democrats will have to play defense as to why they raised taxes on middle class health care plans while turning the IRS into the bagman for some of the most hated companies in America.


In conclusion, Obama isn't in good shape. Halfway through the midterms, Obama as coach is giving a lockroom pep talk that is little more than "we couldn't have done any better in the first half because our team is so bad." And his strategy in the second half appears to be focused on making himself look good even if it is at the expense of the rest of the team. Which means even if he does start looking better in the polls, it might not be good news for Democrats in 2010.

Tags: polls, Barack Obama, base, Health care, 2010, midterms, turnout, enthusiasm gap (all tags)



So how bad will we lose?
And is anyone else worried the DSCC could quite literally spend all of their money in Nevada?
by Bob Brigham 2010-01-03 05:28PM | 0 recs
RE: So how bad will we lose?

I feel people are getting way to panicky 11 months before the election.  MANY things can happen between now and then.   


I feel we will lose a net 3 Senate seats, and 10-15 in the house mostly Blue Dogs, Unemployment will have improved to between 7.8% and 8.2% and Obama's approval will sit at 55%.    

by FUJA 2010-01-03 06:33PM | 1 recs
RE: RE: So how bad will we lose?

Can you link us to where you are getting this economic forecast?

by bruh3 2010-01-03 06:45PM | 0 recs
RE: RE: RE: So how bad will we lose?

I never said it was a professional economic forecast did I?    Furthermore, your opinion means about as much to me as bag of dog crap... so please do us both a favor and leave me alone.

by FUJA 2010-01-03 10:17PM | 0 recs

if we try to focus on the 2% of the population you think we should, rather than the other 98%.

Democrats can't keep their majority with a million and a half votes.

by ND22 2010-01-03 07:09PM | 1 recs
RE: Terribly

In case you haven't been paying attention, what the base wants is more popular than what Obama is doing. The base is mad because Obama isn't doing what is both popular and makes sense.

by Bob Brigham 2010-01-03 08:28PM | 0 recs
Not as bad as you wish.

This diary is like a suicide hotline but without the good cheer. What has happened here at MyDD that I now need to get perscriptions refilled before I can read a diary? If I want irrational pessimism and cooked statistics, I can go over to Naked Capitalism and Calculated Risk.

Part I:

In the first part of the diary, you basically assert that despite a whopping 80% approval rating amongst democrats, who will likely be voting for democrats in the midterm, Obama has a problem with democrats. By projecting your own personal dissatisfaction onto the base, are you honestly arguing that the 20% disapproval amongst (people who identify as) democrats is all within the base? Please tell me you are not trying to make this connection. You have zero evidence as to the approval ratings amongst any of the subsets of the democratic party you identify. The theory that Obama's base was would abandon him on election day was touted by contrarians right on up to 2008. Because Obama's base is nontraditional, it surealy can't be counted on. We all saw how the general election turned out.

Part II:

Drew Westen does make some good points that you copy down in the second part of this diary.

"What's costing the president are three things: a laissez faire style of leadership that appears weak and removed to everyday Americans, a failure to articulate and defend any coherent ideological position on virtually anything, and a widespread perception that he cares more about special interests like bank, credit card, oil and coal, and health and pharmaceutical companies than he does about the people they are shafting."

This is his opinion, and I would partly agree with it, although it only paints half the picture. But what Drew Westen doesn't mention, or what you fail to disclose (I won't give Republicans like Arianna Huffington my business by visiting her site to see whether he mentions it or not), is that the Republican brand continuously and consistently fares far worse in polling, giving the President some important leeway here that you fail to acknowledge. You cannot honestly make an assessment of the medterm elections without mentioning one of the two political parties. Even the bruh mentions it down below.

Thrown in is a strange tangent that Obama did what any other Democratic President would do but yet he could have supposedly done so much more? You know why this is wrong? If it was as easy as the armchair quarterbacks would like to make it seem, democrats would have gotten healthcare reform done 40 years ago instead of failing consistently at it up until today. FDR had far more legislators to work with and far less special interest money, and he was often hobbled.

Part III:

Now you completely contradict yourself. You note that Obama's poll numbers are steadily improving. Most likely due to voters' perception of the economy improving. There is a strong historical correlation between Presidential approval and the economy. But after complaining about the President's job approval being supposedly low, or not as low as it really should be, or something, you complain that Obama is raising his approval:

For Obama, health care seems to be following a model of raising the president's approval at the expense of depressing the base during the midterms.

Dennis Kucinich didn't win the primary. He had a chance, and he didn't win. The far left wing of the party, the anticorporatist wing that wants blood and to wage war, isn't necessarily the base. Yuo don't remember the primary wars? Do you have any evidence to show voting enthusiasm/behavior versus political stance on the public option? As is so common on the far left, you are just projecting your own beliefs onto the base.

* * *

In closing, I can't see how this diary is not loosely supported irrational pessimism. Obama has been holding steady at >50% in Gallup for a few weeks now and >50% in pollster as you note. You completely fail to note that the patterns of 1994 so far are not playing out (democratic retirements, competitive districts, um, a popular GOP).

I understand that there is the theory that we should always play like we're 10% behind, but if that's your operating belief, at least call it out before I start running the water int he bathtub and get the razor blades ready.

by NoFortunateSon 2010-01-03 07:38PM | 0 recs
RE: Not as bad as you wish.

I. You can disagree with my analysis of enthusiams from the base, but the poll numbers on turnout among Democrats as a whole are very troubling. And I didn't even get into the money side, where small dollar donations going to be low while it makes sense for unions to not spend any money in general election fights this year.

II. Healthcare reform has been tough historically. But Obama campaigned on popular health care reform. That's why he bashed Clinton on mandates and McCain with taxing benefits. Now, because of his lack of leadership, he's exposing Democrats to the same attacks Obama's campaign team decided were effective enough to invest a lot of money in pushing.

III. All I'm saying (which seems to be the same as the White House), is that Obama thinks the hippy-punch will boost his numbers and will hit even though he knows it will hurt Democrats. And there is an impressive coalition pushing message against the health care cave.

Hopefully we'll just lose some Blue Dogs who we are better off without. But the dynamics could easily to where we lose the House.

by Bob Brigham 2010-01-03 08:25PM | 0 recs
RE: RE: Not as bad as you wish.
I agree with the man you're challenging, Bob. I'm getting a little tired of coming to these sites and reading nothing but negative baloney by the political versions of call-in sports talk show types.I'm beginning to see that the left in this country has its own Flying Monkey contingent to deal with. I don't know how the elections are going to play out this year, or where the two parties are going to gain or lose, but I'm starting to get tired of this constant speculation with little or no evidence.
by spirowasright 2010-01-03 08:42PM | 0 recs
RE: RE: Not as bad as you wish.

I'm not worried about Blue dogs or anything else for that matter.  I think we're gonna lose BOTH the House and Senate.  Not by a lot, but by the small margins that matter.


by TxDem08 2010-01-03 10:31PM | 0 recs
Fair enough.

I agree that my tone in the initial reply was overly harsh. Please forgive my impatience.

I. Yes, the poll of Democrat vote enthusiasm is troubling, with as you note, 45% planning to either not vote, or being unsure of whether they will vote in the Midterm election (Daily Kos poll). There is no, nor should there be, any denial that such a result is troubling for Democrats. To me, the poll signifies anger/frustration with the democratic party rather than support for the opposition. It is unclear how much this poll result has to do with President Obama. Clearly it is partly due to his actions or inactions. But how much is beyond his control? We have been in a legislative ugly phase since August with healthcare. I just think it is way too soon to draw any conclusions without supporting evidence as to how this opinion will translate into voter turnout 11 months down the road. Stay vigilant, yes, but irrational Obama cheering is as intellectually vapid as irrational Obama jeering.

II. Even as an Obama supporter (and campaign worker) during the primary, I was more in favor of Hillary Clinton's healthcare plan. Poor Clinton was just honest about mandates and made herself vulnerable to a cheap attack. Politics is ugly business. I do favor mandates. I am not accusing you of doing this, but I have recently read many articles from former Clinton supporters attacking mandates. The blogosphere has no memory. My opinion is that mandates are necessary for Universal coverage. Mandates are part of healthcare systems in other countries, as are private insurers. What is lacking is the public option. But yes, any time you do anything in politics, you are opening yourself up to attack.

III. I think we'll most certainly lose Blue Dogs. But these Blue Dogs usually come from marginal districts to begin with, and thus it is a self fulfilling prophecy. They're caught in a political lose-lose. I'd like to say blue Dog losses signify voter rejection of moderation and triangulation, but this is yet another straw man, as they tend to hail from republican districts. Even thorugh my Obot rose colored glasses, I was disapointed by Obama's failure to push for the public option. To me, Obama became afraid of failure. I understand that failing on healthcare would have certainly doomed the democrats and energized the Republicans. I understand that it might have no way no how ever been able to pass the Senate. But to me, it is not the politics of the possible. I believe, though, that failure of the Public Option extended far beyond President Obama. As I have repeatedly noted, Jane Hamsher could at best get 500 people to show up in the Capitol and rally for the Public Option. Michelle Bachmann can get 10,000. It was the topic of my first diary here, and I caught a lot of flak. But I think progressives as a whole lost control of the dialogue on the public ioption in August, and if we were not perceived of having Obama's back on it, it was too risky a political move. I think it was a systemic problem, but the buck ultimately stops at Obama. As you note, an impressive coalition cropped up, but this has mostly disintegrated with the Senate passing the bill. Jane Hamsher has been skewered by many on the left and Howard Dean now supports passage of the bill. There is simply too much good in the bill to kill it. What I want to see from Obama is an urge to continue the fight. If, as Ron Wyden says "social justice is never won in round 1", becomes the theme of the bill, then will be elated. If Obama tries to pass the bill off as the final word, then I will be disappointed. Many succesful Presidents (JFK and Lincoln) wobbled in their first years (eeks. I just realized what those two had in common), and others like FDR were blasted from the left and branded sellouts and traitors for scaling back social programs like social security, only to see them expanded to the programs we know today. So I just feel that the doom mantra lacks perspective.

by NoFortunateSon 2010-01-03 11:03PM | 0 recs
To be fair to FDR

When he proposed healthcare as a right in 1944 in his State of Union address, he noted that it would be a legislative goal for the post war period. He was looking forward when he made those comments. Regrettably FDR didn't live long enough to deliver on those promises.

Furthermore in the 1944 election, FDR was forced to drop Henry Wallace as his running mate in favor of Harry Truman. Truman was a New Dealer certainly but he was also from the conservative wing of the Democratic Party and arguably the most conservative Democratic President but for Grover Cleveland. Had Wallace become President instead of Truman, this would be a far different country today.

And I'll note one more thing, when FDR made that economic bill of rights address he warned that a "right wing reaction" would rise up against it. 

by Charles Lemos 2010-01-04 01:50AM | 0 recs
RE: Barack Obama Poll Numbers and the Midterm Elections

Improvements need to be made by Obama, but I still think over obsessing on Polls 11 months out is nuts.     


As for Nevada... Yes, I agree that is a big worry.

by FUJA 2010-01-03 06:31PM | 0 recs
RE: RE: Barack Obama Poll Numbers and the Midterm Elections

I'm not so concerned about state of the polls as I am of the dynamics behind which the numbers will move.

by Bob Brigham 2010-01-03 06:38PM | 1 recs
RE: RE: RE: Barack Obama Poll Numbers and the Midterm Elections

I never said it wasn't potentially troubling.   It's the Sky is falling idiots that just really annoy the hell out of me (and I am not counting you as one of those, FTR)...  always hand wringing, panicky but NEVER really giving any examples on how to improve the situation except for things that are patently impossible.  The dynamics are concerning but frankly we don't know if the projected dynamics on the polling is actually correct this far out.    Now 3-4 months out, then its worry time.


Instead of worrying about or hoping (as some jerkoffs seem to be doing) for failure, maybe we should actually quit the panicky behavior and actually try to work to minimize the losses and push for what we want, because frankly, IMHO, we've done a piss poor job as progressives of pushing what we want for in legislation and foolishly believing that an article on Kos or MyDD is going to overcome lobbyists, conservadems and republican d-bags.

by FUJA 2010-01-03 10:26PM | 1 recs
Hitting the nail on the head?

I think you make a major point that is often ignored, and that is the lack of social activism to accompany the progressive so-called "movement".

I don't buy the excuse that online activism is a modern day substitute for actually physical rallying, protests, etc.

The buck stops with President Obama and our Democratic politicians. That's for certain. But the irrational negativity from people who are dishonest brokers (i.e., Arianna Huffington) and failure to offer solutions is, in my opinion, one of the reasons our opinions are being trampled.

by NoFortunateSon 2010-01-03 11:58PM | 0 recs
RE: RE: Barack Obama Poll Numbers and the Midterm Elections

The thing that gets me about some of you posting here is a how ahistorical you are in what you say. It is like you think these discussions began on the day President Obama takes office. There is a reason that people are using the first year of the President Obama's presidency as a benchmark. That's because most president's do not improve off of their first year mark. Now, maybe he will be the exception, but for that to happen will require a massive change in personal (since he is surrounded by the neoliberal economic architects of what will eventually be his down fall) and b) a totally revamping of the presidency. 

by bruh3 2010-01-03 06:43PM | 0 recs

Nothing funnier than people who think Obama will do more/better in a midterm election year than he did in his honeymoon year.

by Bob Brigham 2010-01-03 06:45PM | 1 recs
Because history ALWAYS repeats itself?


by NoFortunateSon 2010-01-03 06:59PM | 0 recs
RE: Because history ALWAYS repeats itself?

Let me clarify.

Nothing funnier than people who think Obama with Emanuel/Messina will do more/better in a midterm election year than he did in his honeymoon year.

by Bob Brigham 2010-01-03 07:06PM | 0 recs
I don't think ANYONE thinks they'll do better in the midterms

whether they have Emanuel/Messina or Dean/Jane Hamsher. There's bound to be a dropoff, from those voters who only vote in election years to the inevitable group who will not to be satisfied with they voted for in 2008, whether it's because they're not getting everything they want or think they made a mistake in electing a radical liberal.

In my mind, there's nothing funnier than people who think all we need to do is take the advice of the blogsphere and we'll be pushing 60% of the vote.


by ND22 2010-01-03 07:16PM | 0 recs
RE: I don't think ANYONE thinks they'll do better in the midterms

Irony: "There's nothing funnier than people who think all we need to do is take the advice of the blogsphere"

You are offering your advice where? 

by bruh3 2010-01-03 07:25PM | 0 recs
Do better how?

In terms of midterm election results?

This is a straw man within a straw man.

First we throw up the classic far left bogeyman of Rahm Emanuel, and then we blame him for midterm election losses (which have yet to happen), despite the historical uphill battle Rahm Emanuel would face to actually gain seats, and the political landscape of these midterms which make a pickup even far less likely.

by NoFortunateSon 2010-01-03 08:21PM | 0 recs
RE: Do better how?

Yes, and when the term "left of left" was used by you and the status quo brigade to defend Obama's piss poor choices, it was when Rahm said that of those who supported the public option. A policy then supported by 60 percent of the entire electorate, and continues to be extremely popular. So, if we are going to start trying to bait with language, let's cut to the chase by discussing how the majority of the American people according to people like you is the "far left."

by bruh3 2010-01-03 08:53PM | 0 recs
Wow. You are really bad at this.

You cannot respond to a point without attacking the poster, the President, or his supporters, even when they are not mentioned explicitely or implicitely.

Point: Claiming Rahm Emanuel will be responsible for midterm losses is a straw man argument (within a straw man argument), because not suffering midterm losses is a really uphill battle.

The bruh: Rahm killed teh public option that 60% of american people wanted yet only 500 showed up to actually rally for!

by NoFortunateSon 2010-01-03 09:08PM | 0 recs
RE: Wow. You are really bad at this.
Yes, there was no attack in describing those who disagree with you as "the hard left." It is all me rather than you being typical bullshit artists who post here. And then you whine about it. As I said else where, most of you intellectually dishonest. I am just calling you on it rather than letting you pollute the diaries that are written here with your half truths and baiting.
by bruh3 2010-01-03 09:48PM | 0 recs
Or... could just be wrong.

I like the fact that you never question the accuracy of your own beliefs, and any attempt to question them factually is spin/propaganda/BS/Obotism/etc. It makes these discussions fun.

I once asked you to show me an instance where you acknowledged the legitimacy of someone's dissenting point of view (especially, but not necessarily, one favorable of President Obama, because I know this would be hard for you).

I'm still waiting.

I think what burns you up is that people can so easily poke holes in your theories.

by NoFortunateSon 2010-01-03 11:51PM | 0 recs
RE: RE: Because history ALWAYS repeats itself?

His honeymoon year saw him coming into office in the worst situation possible... something no modern president has faced.   While I think the Dems will lose seats, I don't think it will be as bad as you think... Frankly if Obama had a 65% approval, I still think he'd lose blue dog house seats regardless.


But I do feel the job market will start to improve by years end and Obama's numbers will be mid 50's by the end of the year/early 2011.    

by FUJA 2010-01-03 10:34PM | 0 recs
RE: indeed

Well, the arguments are not based on history for a reason. They are trying to "save the president" through absurd spin.

What choice do they have  other than arguments that change week to week, day to day and second to second. The week before last it was the president did not campaign on the public option although weeks before several were arguing that he did.

Before that it was such gems as supporting the release of the torture photos until the president was against it.

Jane Hamsher is to be hated because she worked on a single issue with Grover Norquist, but Senator Obama worked with Senator Coburn (a guy who sterilied women against their will) is okay.

When I pointed out that the health care bill would hurt the middle class, I was basically told that that just means that the middle class will have less money for going out to clubs.

So, if you are expecting intellectual honesty, I am afraid you will be waiting a long time. 

by bruh3 2010-01-03 07:34PM | 0 recs
Ahistorical you say?

There is a reason that people are using the first year of the President Obama's presidency as a benchmark. That's because most president's do not improve off of their first year mark.

Do I have to do all the fact checking here at MyDD?

<img src=""&gt;

But just to set you straight here, 6 of 11 Presidents did improve in popularity over their first year:

  • Truman: no
  • Eisenhower: yes
  • Kennedy: yes
  • Johnson: no
  • Nixon: no
  • Ford: no
  • Carter: no
  • Regan: yes
  • George I: yes
  • Clinton: yes
  • George II: yes

Honestly, I can't keep doing all the fact checking for MyDD.

by NoFortunateSon 2010-01-03 07:48PM | 2 recs
RE: Ahistorical you say?
Well you nicely argued against that straw man you made up. Congrats. Let me know when you want to discuss legislation, impact on ability to retain or obtain seats, etc.
by bruh3 2010-01-03 08:10PM | 0 recs
If you're going to use "straw man"

At least use it correclty. You said:

That's because most president's do not improve off of their first year mark.

And then I proved you were wrong by showing Presidential approval ratings have indeed improved after the first year.

If you're so obviously wrong, at least admit it, bruh.

by NoFortunateSon 2010-01-03 09:00PM | 1 recs
RE: If you're going to use "straw man"

And if in the context of the diary you writing we were talking just about the president's poll numbers rather than other variables, you might actually not be using a straw man. As it is, you simply repeat the error in thinking or lack there of. 

by bruh3 2010-01-03 09:50PM | 0 recs
RE: Ahistorical you say?

By more/better, I was talking about getting stuff done. You have to go back to the 60's to find a Democrat who go more/better done policy-wise than during the first year.

by Bob Brigham 2010-01-03 08:14PM | 0 recs
RE: RE: Ahistorical you say?

For the record, your point was clear.

by bruh3 2010-01-03 08:47PM | 0 recs
I think President Obama's numbers are irrelevant for 2 reasons

a) The Lesson of 2009 elections indicate to me that people will decide on the party without regard to what they think of Obama.


b) The economy is crap. No amount of cheerleading about how the economy is doing better is going to convince people that double digit unemployment, a lack of job growth for a decade (the lost decade), and multiple other Neo-liberal based economic results is a good thing. The chief problem the Democrats as a whole, not just Obama, faces is that it can not both serve the dictates of Wall Street and the interests of the American people. 


c) The only thing that will save the party from utter defeat (as in losing both legislatures in Congress) is that although Democrats are right of center on economic policies, the GOP is a nut house. This will mean a lose of probably 20 to 25 seats in the House and 5 Senate Seats. The problem is that this will be seen as the party moved too far "left" (in quotes because the party is to the right of the head of France who is considered a right winger by European standards) when in fact the results were merely reflect two choices at the battles. We can already see this argument being set up by the neoliberals through Obama's allies  like Daly of Chicago. They always game the system. If they lose, it is because of liberals. If they win, it is because of neoliberals. It is like that old saying about conservatives that can now be applied to neoliberals: "Neoliberals fell neoliberalism. Neoliberalisms never fell neoliberals." The point is that this WH and the Democrats in DC are deeply ideological beyond just trying to hoover up all the Wall Street money from the GOP, which some here keep touting as a virtue. 

by bruh3 2010-01-03 06:40PM | 0 recs
RE: I think President Obama's numbers are irrelevant for 2 reasons

Jesus, dude...are you doing a parody?  The last "neoliberal" president (if you're convinced Clinton is a neoliberal) added 22.7 million jobs.


Under Bush, 5.8 million jobs.  I suppose you're conflating Bush with "neoliberalism" in order to pin the whole ball of was on Obama.


The only thing that will save the party is utter failure.  That's precious.


Cue "you're attacking me" in three, two, one..



by lojasmo 2010-01-03 07:08PM | 2 recs
RE: RE: I think President Obama's numbers are irrelevant for 2 reasons

Clinton's economic policies which Bush continued did not take full effect until this decade.  The bank crash of last year, for example, started with regulations that Clinton signed into law. Your ignorance here is not surprising, but it is amusing to find yet another post confirming that many of you lack a basic knowledge of history to be a real intellectual challenge to anyone who does. 

by bruh3 2010-01-03 07:22PM | 0 recs
The stones come with the farm.

Actually, it started with regulations Regan signed into law pased by a democratic congress. But anyhow...

Yes, "neoliberalism" added 22.7 million jobs.

Yes, "neoliberalism" led to the economic failures we see today.

Obama's challenge is to somehow draw the benefits of job creation without the costs. so far, with the latest call for regulations to avoid bubble markets, shows that he is well aware if the benefits and pitfalls of neoliberalism.



by NoFortunateSon 2010-01-03 08:10PM | 1 recs
RE: The stones come with the farm.

a) Let's discuss the jobs it added. What were they? The benefits? What is the wage situation for the average American right now versus say in 70s? What about economic stability for the average American? What about risk for the average American?

b) Let's also give you one prop up for actually not trying to deny the obvious like the other mindless drone. One of the worse mistakes people make here is not to concede the obvious. Your buddy was headed down that road by pretending the situation began with Bush. And, yes, they began with Reagan, continued with Clinton and followed throw now with BUsh and Obama. I have never said it was one. thus, the 30 to 40 years line and the multiple blog posts and comments in which I say the problem is that both parties are true believers in neoliberalism. 

c) Obama's problem now, however, is that he will continue the policies that will continue the race to the bottom that we have seen now that the full force of neoliberal policies have taken effect. This despite all evidence to the contrary. You repeat that mindset here. It is not neoliberalism. It is that we didn't do it right. The rest of the world is set to leave these policies behind, and our response? Let's double down. Look at China- we are trying to engage strangely a country that is merchantilistic as if they are free traders. So the deals and arrangements remain one sided.

As I have said, the argument is now becoming "Neoliberals can only fail neoliberalism. Neoliberalism can not fail neoliberals."

Facts are irrelevant to pursuing the policies.

This is, our course, the same arguments made about communism. The problem is not communism. It is that we have not had "real" communism. The same is said of conservatism too. It is funny how all these ideological beliefs are never to blame. 

It is always something other than the flawed assumptions of the belief. We see that now with the flawed neoliberal assumption that health care consumers will be rational so let's set up an excise tax. This despite all evidence to the contrary on that front. That people are not rational when it comes to costs and their own health. They will oddly do whatever it takes to save their lives even if the thins they are doing are not the best. And on other hand, that some are oddly going to cut cost below where it should be, and end up dead because they did not realize the exact amount of health care they needed. But neoliberals say "in markets we trust," and that's all the analysis that's needed.


by bruh3 2010-01-03 08:23PM | 0 recs
Where did I say that?

You've got to stop making stuff up. I never said that the problem with neoliberalism is that we didn't do it right.

by NoFortunateSon 2010-01-03 09:16PM | 0 recs
RE: Where did I say that?

Do you read ?  I write a post that basically responds to this by you:

"Obama's challenge is to .... shows that he is well aware if the benefits and pitfalls of neoliberalism."

I say that there is no way to go without the pitfalls in the same way there is no way to go without the pitfalls of communism or conservatism. That the "pitfalls" or defects are actually features.

That your argument amounts to "Neoliberalism can not fail neoliberals. Neoliberals can only fail neoliberalism." That you are making the argument of ideologue rather than one of empiricism. 

You respond "You didn't respond to my post." Except I did. I called what you describe a falsity because it is false to claim that it is only the right form of neoliberalism (the benefits) that needs to happen.

by bruh3 2010-01-03 09:45PM | 0 recs
Hey bruh, do you know of a political theory without a downside?

What political implementations by man have no downsides? Please answer.

There are upsides and downsides to our current political system that you like to label "neoliberalism" because you read a Wikipedia article on it.

If you're trying to gain only the upsides but avoid the downsides while transitioning, you're not applying that political theory. So in essence, if you'd care to pay attention, I have been agreeing with you all along, in that Obama's challenge is to not apply pure "neoliberalism" but pivot to a more fruitful model.

Bill Clinton left office with 3.9% unemployment and $127 billion in surpluss. So don't tell me there were no upsides.

by NoFortunateSon 2010-01-03 11:45PM | 1 recs
RE: Hey bruh, do you know of a political theory without a downside?
I know when it is time to stop basing your policies on theory. I am moderate. A real one. Not the fictional one that conservatives in DC try to brand as centrism to the American public. I look at empirically what is happening with the application of a theory. It is on this front that neoliberalism fails. In science, when a theory fails we say that means that the theory in wrong. In politics, when an idealogue sees their theory fail, they argue it means they didn't do it right the first time because ideologues can't ever see their theory as the problem. Despite your claims otherwise, that's why the White House and you are ideologues rather than pragmatists. You are simply ignoring the evidence on a policy level in terms of what it is saying. As Naked Capitalist recently wrote of the WH- they are "cognitively captured." The problem is neoliberalism is not just flawed. It has been shown to be a fatality flawed ideological belief just like neoconservatism and communism. I was once a neoliberal. But the evidence is coming it. It is a failed ideological perspective. The problem is that it does not stand the test of empiricism. I am not going to go through all the details of that here, but the underlying assumptions are flawed. I can give quick examples such as neoliberals in the Senate assuming health care consumers are rational despite contra evidence and common sense that says that when dealing with their own lives they are not going to accurately guess the right amount of health services because they are not experts (that's what the excise tax assumes) rather than addressing too-big-to-fail as a market failure issue the neoliberals in the WH says that this should become the standard, rather than addressing China's merchantilism we ignore it, rather than addressing the types of jobs created you implicitly set up stagnant wages as a virtue (nevermind wages have been stagnant for those in the bottom 95th percentile for decades), and on and on and on. But, no, neoliberalism does not fail you, you can only fail neoliberalism. You need to do it the "right way." As I wrote before, whereas Republicans see neoliberalism as perfect, Democrats see it as with scars, but mostly needing to just put out a few fires. It is never that the guiding ideological perspective is fatally flawed. Our system is not neoliberalism. Our system has been different types of capitalism. Neoliberalism is only the latest version. The kind of FDR was social capitalism. Please don't tell me the health care bill is social capitalism because that's bullshit. Social capitalism is where we should return since that is the era of which we grew the middle class. That's why we are following behind other countries in Europe regarding economic equality. You advocate a system that focuses on the paper economy of Wall Street. I am thinking of one that focuses on main street. The telling story for me recently was how much the WH ignored the lack of lending to small business until recently even while being on speed dial with Wall Street. Were there priorities in the right place this should have been the first sign of problems. The concern this diarist raises are what people on the street are thinking. It is what as one Dem leader said will kick the Dems ass in Nov 2010. Obama's numbers don't matter because no one will care about them come November. Our ultimate political system is representative democracy. Neoliberalism is ideology that has been pushed onto the American public by both parties since Reagan. Vote Dem- get a neoliberal. Vote Republican- get a neoliberal. If you poll most people on the policies of neoliberal thought-t hey would not want it. But because we are a partisan and personality driven electorate they vote for branding of candidates thinking they are getting what they want, but instead are just getting the lousy bumper sticker. Don't worry, as with bush it will last few a few years. It may even get you through 2012 given the alternative is ape shit crazy. But that does not mean the public buys this ideological perspective. The lesson of the PO is that they don't. The lesson of wall street bail outs is that they don't. Issue after issue shows that same conclusion. I don't give a shit what Bill Clinton created jobs when I know what type of jobs he created overall did not change the trajectory of stangant wages and a declining middle class. IN that context, your statement about the stats is misdirction. He created a stop gap measure. Like all Democrats, including Obama, empirically, looking at the data, they are just putting out fires even while doing as you are doing saying that it is not the underlying ideological perspective. Except, yeah, actually it is that the ideology is fatally flawed:;
by bruh3 2010-01-04 01:55AM | 0 recs
RE: Hey bruh, do you know of a political theory without a downside?

PS I have no idea why the new system eliminated by paragraphs. 

by bruh3 2010-01-04 01:56AM | 0 recs
RE: RE: RE: I think President Obama's numbers are irrelevant for 2 reasons

So you're positing the theory that Clinton's policied which provided the ability of, perhaps, millions of low and middle income families to be able to own homes caused the economy to crash eight years later?

I reject that argument when it is presented by (many) conservatives, and I reject it when you posit it.  Why?  Because it's baloney. (when you resort to regurgitating right-wing talking points your credibility is further diminished, bruh)

by lojasmo 2010-01-05 09:00AM | 0 recs
People are attacking me!!!

Thanks for the laugh.

by NoFortunateSon 2010-01-03 08:17PM | 0 recs
President Obama's numbers ARE irrelevant for 2 reasons

In picture form:

Now I can't seem to insert an image with this new MyDD software, but it's almost like Presidential job approval follows some kind of trend. Hmmm....I wonder what that trend could be....

If the economy is doing better come November 2010, then Democrats will be okay. If the economy hasn't improved, then Democrats will be in trouble.

by NoFortunateSon 2010-01-03 07:58PM | 1 recs
President Obama's numbers ARE irrelevant for 2 reasons

In picture form:

Now I can't seem to insert an image with this new MyDD software, but it's almost like Presidential job approval follows some kind of trend. Hmmm....I wonder what that trend could be....

If the economy is doing better come November 2010, then Democrats will be okay. If the economy hasn't improved, then Democrats will be in trouble.

by NoFortunateSon 2010-01-03 07:59PM | 1 recs
So the Democratic "base"

is, at best, less tha one in five people who voted for Obama? At worse, it's 2% of the total number of people who voted for Obama.

The word pathetic comes to mind.

by ND22 2010-01-03 07:13PM | 1 recs
RE: So the Democratic "base"

Rather than pathetic, those numbers are unprecedented. Not even in the same ballpark as in the Clinton years.

by Bob Brigham 2010-01-03 08:11PM | 0 recs
From the Obama Derangement Syndrome files

Do you remember the argument from some on the left that Obama's base somehow wasn't good enough (traditional enough) to win the general election?

by NoFortunateSon 2010-01-03 08:18PM | 0 recs
RE: From the Obama Derangement Syndrome files

No, but I do remember saying whoever won the primary would win the general. So, if you want to continue to live in the primaries (which actually tells us nothing about how voters will perceive the governing politician much less his party) then please wallow in the fantasy correctly describing some of the many and varied views of the candidates at the time. 

by bruh3 2010-01-03 08:50PM | 0 recs
Again, please respond to the point made.

Point: (humorously) Many detractors on the left argued during the general election, even on up to November 4, 2008, that Obama's base would never materialize or show up to vote. The diary here contends a problem lies with the Democratic base (not necessarily Obama's).

The bruh: something about the primary.


by NoFortunateSon 2010-01-03 09:13PM | 1 recs
RE: Again, please respond to the point made.

Respond to your point? Now, coming from you that's a riot. 

by bruh3 2010-01-03 09:36PM | 0 recs
Come on, bruh

Do you want to discuss this or not. You know I agree with your economic theories.

by NoFortunateSon 2010-01-03 09:47PM | 1 recs
RE: Come on, bruh

I am not interested in every diary reliving the primaries. they are irrelevant unless they elucidate some point here. Unless the diarist wrote what you said during the primaries, it is irrelevant, and even then, it is not a response to discuss what people thought of a candidate versus a sitting president. And even then, it says nothing of the more complicated point of whether what they think of the president will matter regarding what they decide in the voting booth from the rest of the party. You are so far removed from the discussion that one would need a telescope to find meaning as it relates to this conversation.

by bruh3 2010-01-03 10:38PM | 0 recs
I complete my bruh bingo card for the evening...
...with the: "I won't bother to answer your point" excuse. My point was that supposed Democrats on the left argued that the President's base would fail him in 2008, even on in to November. Of course, they were very wrong. 2010 isn't 2008, but you can't even come up with a cogent retort to my argument that assumptions about behavior of the base may be tainted.
by NoFortunateSon 2010-01-03 11:37PM | 1 recs
RE: I complete my bruh bingo card for the evening...

If excuse were relevant to the discussion, your rationalization might actually mean something.

by bruh3 2010-01-04 01:28AM | 0 recs
RE: From the Obama Derangement Syndrome files

Yes, but that was before the Bush administration threw the election to Obama by hyping the economic crisis--2008's October Surprise--instead of creating a military crisis.


They knew they could pin all of Bush's failures on him, which they're now doing very successfully.


Carolyn Kay

by Caro 2010-01-04 12:27PM | 0 recs
So Obama is above 80%, his detractors are nothing but

a small fringe. Yet, if they say anything negative about the President, this will somehow elect Sarah Palin.

Just like how he campaigned on escalation in Afghanistan, but not on the public option, because it wasn't <i>emphasized</i> or something.

by bay of arizona 2010-01-03 09:29PM | 0 recs
one tricky thing about next year

is that in certain states and House districts, Democrats will want to "put Obama on the ballot" to drive up D turnout, but in other districts, that won't work in our favor. It's going to be hard for the DNC and DCCC to strike a balance in terms of making the election about Obama where it needs to be but not too much about Obama.

I am generally pessimistic about the economy. I see unemployment remaining above 10 percent next fall, which is going to depress D turnout. I also think the GOP will be able to make hay out of certain elements of the health care reform bill.

by desmoinesdem 2010-01-03 10:19PM | 0 recs
RE: one tricky thing about next year

I agree. The two provision that I think will kill us are a) the mandate with out a cheap alternative to private plans and b) excise taxes that amount to claiming we will gain cost containment based on right wing assumptions about consumers not using their health care services. Neither of which will be framed as such. They will simply be called the liberal agenda, and we will get screwed with it. 

by bruh3 2010-01-03 10:40PM | 0 recs
the excise tax

will be more damaging than the mandate in my opinion. Two big promises broken in one fell swoop: you'll be able to keep the insurance you have if you like it, and we won't raise taxes on anyone earning less thatn $250K a year.

Making matters worse, Republicans can argue that Democrats didn't even solve the health insurance portability problem.

by desmoinesdem 2010-01-04 08:40AM | 0 recs
Historical Precedents?

Who cares about historical precedents?  They don't mean much in a modern day society that has been transformed by the internet.  If the public perceives that the economy is getting better and unemployment is going down, Democrats won't get slaughtered in 2010.

Sure, Democrats have a good chance of losing some seats.  Considering they have dominated in the last two election cycles, that is not surprising.

I suspect that Democrats will portray the Republicans as dishonest obstructionists since Senate Republicans are filibustering EVERYTHING including the most trivial pieces of legislation proposed by Obama and the Democratic Congress.

One thing is for sure, panicking is wasted effort.

by agpc 2010-01-04 12:07AM | 0 recs


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