Friday, December 26, 2008

The Only Poll That Matters Is ...

I still don't know what to make of Barack Obama's absurdly high approval ratings. 82% is a full fifteen points higher than the marks Dubya or Bill Clinton received. The number barely makes sense; we're approaching something close to Bush-after-9/11 figures, and while the economy is in a downturn, there's no way it's in enough of a downturn that one third of all Republicans would (after all, Bill Clinton took office in an economic crisis). So, say half of those fifteen percent who didn't approve of Clinton approve of Obama due to the rougher economic times and the lack of a third party candidate. That still leaves a needed explanation for seven or eight percent of the public, and while I think Obama is benefiting from the fact that the country is eager to hear a President who can string together consecutive related sentences, I have a hard time avoiding the idea that there's some Bradley/Wilder effect going on here. We know that at this point, Americans don't lie that much about black candidates when it comes to horserace polling, but we don't have much data when it comes to approval polling.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think you might not be fully appreciating the gravity of the moment.

1) This recession is already much worse than the 1991-92 recession, which was already on its way out by the time Bill Clinton was sworn in. By contrast, this current recession has officially gone on twice as long as both previous recessions, and is only projected to get worse next year.

2) Fear. This is the key. People are scared shitless right now. The entire structure of our economy is in doubt, and that means that no one sector or job is safe for the most part. This was not the case during the early 90's recession. Fear is a hell of a thing, enough to make lots of quasi red staters support a black democratic president in the hopes that he can right the ship.

3) Moderate Republicans really love Obama's cabinet picks. This subset can include both the national security Republicans and the fiscal conservative Republicans, leaving only the evangelicals out of the loop...which Obama has recently placated somewhat with the Rick Warren choice, and standing up for Warren despite his base has certainly won Obama some points with the born-again crowd.

Nicholas Beaudrot said...

Does the DMX Appreciation Society have a blog?

Petey said...

The all-purpose shortcut for understanding Obama is to use Eisenhower as a template.

He's a national unity figure coming in at a time when the national mood is incredibly sour.

Review your political history from 1952 going forward if you want to get a jump on the future. (Spoiler warning: the future is very good for Obama approval ratings, and much less good for Democrats and the left.)

Carl Ballard said...

I agree with what DMX said, but I'd also add: Obama got 53% in 2008; Bill Clinton got about 43% in 1992: there is 10% more right there.

Also, the Republicans viewed the Presidency as theirs much more after Bill Clinton than before him, so there might have been some bitterness there. 1992 was also more of a nail biter than 2008 (although not as much as 2000 or 2004), so Republicans and others have had time to adjust to the idea.

corvus said...

Not much to say, except what DMX said. Just wanted to to this word verification:

policto: a ticky-taffy made from the processing of the opinions of cable news anchors

Anonymous said...

Obama ran a great campaign, but DMX's number 2 (that sounds ridiculous, by the way) probably played a bigger part in his win than we realize. The fact that Republicans governed the country for eight years and wrecked it in profound ways, was probably enough to convince a lot of "quasi-red staters" to throw their lot with the black guy.