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?

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Why Did Hillary Clinton Win Massachusetts?

By: Inoljt,

I think we all remember the 2008 Democratic primaries, that exciting and epic battle. In many ways the campaign caused more excitement than the general election, whose result was never really in doubt (especially after the financial crisis).

Both candidates drew upon distinctly different coalitions. In an influential article, Ronald Brownstein analyzes the difference this way:

Since the 1960s, Democratic nominating contests regularly have come down to a struggle between a candidate who draws support primarily from upscale, economically comfortable voters liberal on social and foreign policy issues, and a rival who relies mostly on downscale, financially strained voters drawn to populist economics and somewhat more conservative views on cultural and national security issues.

President Barack Obama assembled a coalition from the former, these "wine-track" Democrats. When most Americans think of liberals, they think of wine-track Democrats. Mr. Obama, then, was the liberal candidate; Mrs. Clinton the "beer-track," working-class representative.

So candidate won the most liberal place in America?

In fact, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton won the state of Massachusetts (you may have realized this by reading the title of this post). The result wasn't even close; Mrs. Clinton's margin was 15.37%.

More below.

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Lefties Call for Alliance with Paulies Against War

by "Sue4theBillofRights"

Citing Dr. Ron Paul's clear and unambiguous "non-interventionist" platform which condemns US troop presence in Iraq and Afghanistan, anti-war speakers at a rally headlined "No You Can't" called for an alliance between anti-war left and anti-war right on war and peace issues.   Organized by the newly-formed anti-war coalition End US Wars, the rally was held in Lafayette Park in front of the White House last Saturday.  The coalition announced a new alliance of national and grass-roots antiwar organizations and more than 100 leading peace activists.  It featured a joint appearance of four former presidential candidates, former Democratic Senator Mike Gravel, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, former Rep. Cynthia McKinney, and Ralph Nader.

Newsblaze reported:

"Rally organizers are calling for the left to end its support for Obama now that he has committed to a troop surge, and to condemn and oppose Obama's war policy. In addition, the process will begin to replace Obama with an anti-war candidate, and to remove any pro-war legislators. Protests will intensify..."

One of the most passionate denouncements of the proposed troop escalation came from Rev. Graylan Hagler, a prominent African-American DC-area minister and former supporter of President Obama.  Hagler said, "We want people to be respected and treated right.  I did not vote for Barack Obama to take his people into a war.  I voted for change"

Speaker after speaker spoke of having worked for, campaign for, raised money for and enthusiastically supported Obama's presidential campaign, but feeling a sense of betrayal at the announcement of the escalation into Afghanistan.  A speaker for the Black is Back coalition spoke of the Democratic party taking black voters for granted, and called on fellow African-Americans to remember the oppressions of the past, and to not participate through silence in state violence against the Afghan people.  

While acknowledging probable disagreements on other issues, such as health care reform and abortion, two speakers noted that Republican followers of Dr. Ron Paul cited a clear and unambiguous "non-interventionist" policy which could form the basis of an alliance between right and left elements on war issues.  A show of hands of "any Ron Paulies in the audience" was requested at one point.  At the show of a few hands, a warm welcome was extended.  

"We may agree to disagree on many things, but on the issue of war and peace we are all just Americans, and can work together on this" the speaker said.  A welcome was also extended to the Capitol Police detail, who nodded cordially.

Speakers included World Can't Wait coordinator Debra Sweet, Military Families Speak Out Chairwoman Elaine Brower, writer Chris Hedges, numerous members of Iraq Veterans Against the War and Veterans for Peace, and statements from Rabbi Michael Lerner, Col. Ann Wright, Kevin Zeese, Dr. Stephen Zunes, Granny D (turning 100), Jared Ball, John Judge, and Stephen Lendman.

Dr. Ron Paul has charged that the proposed escalation is a recipe for "perpetual war," and holds that it will be militarily impossible to begin withdrawal in 2011.  Paul writes in "Who Wants War? Follow The Money"

"Perpetual war is not solving anything.  Indeed continually seeking out monsters to destroy abroad only threatens our security here at home as international resentment against us builds.  The people understand this and are becoming increasingly frustrated at not being heard by the decision-makers.  The leaders say some things the people want to hear, but change never comes.

One has to ask, if the people who elected these leaders so obviously do not want these wars, who does?  Eisenhower warned of the increasing power and influence of the military industrial complex and it seems his worst fears have come true.  He believed in a strong national defense, as do I, but warned that the building up of permanent military and weapons industries could prove dangerous if their influence got out of hand.  After all, if you make your money on war, peace does you no good.  With trillions of dollars at stake, there is tremendous incentive to keep the decision makers fearful of every threat in the world, real or imagined, present or future, no matter how ridiculous and far-fetched."

During his presidential campaign President Obama called for sending of "two or three more brigades" of troops to Afghanistan, about 10,000 troops, at a time when troops numbered about 30,000 in Afghanistan.  The total is now up to 62,000, after granting a Pentagon request last May.  The proposed increase would bring the total to almost 100,000.  Scholars and journalists have called the renewed insurgency in Afghanistan a result of dashed hopes of a reconstruction and descent into economic despair.  Unemployment in Afghanistan remains at 40%, with the UN estimating that at least 35% of Afghans are malnourished, 40% of children underweight, and starvation being common across the country.  Although relatively stable until 2005, in that year car bombs and suicide attacks began to rise exponentially.  With high unemployment, the Taliban has been called the employer of last resort, able to pay young fighters $10 per day for participating in attacks, sometimes issuing rifles just before an attack.

Western contractors have come under fire for turning excessive profits on reconstruction projects, which often employ relatively few Afghans.

Kucinich, Nader, McKinney, Gravel, and organizer

Lobby Congress here

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The Republican base

They call it like they see it in Idaho.
Skinny with Cel, a blogger on the Idaho Statesman's website sure did, and I thought she out to get a hat tip from a wider audience.

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