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Posted by on Dec 22, 2010 in Politics | 0 comments

CNN Poll: Public Approves of Obama’s Handling of Lame Duck Congress Issues

CNN reports that a new poll shows that public opinion indicates that when it comes to the lame duck Congress, Barack Obama and Republicans “it looks like President Barack Obama is that winner, and his strategy of cooperating with congressional Republican leaders may be the key to his success.”

Another poll (below) gives further evidence of that. CNN reports:

A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey indicates that 56 percent of Americans say they approve of the way Obama’s handled the issues that Congress has considered during the lame duck sesssion, with 41 percent saying they disapprove.

According to the poll, only 44 percent of the public approves of how congressional Republicans have handled the issues and that number drops to 42 percent for Republican leaders in Congress, with a majority of Americans saying they disapprove of how both congressional Democrats and Republicans are acting during the session.

The survey’s Wednesday release comes just a few hours before the Senate is expected to give final approval to a nuclear weapons reduction treaty with Russia, which would be another legislative victory for the president, and just minutes after Obama signed into law a bill that repeals “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the 1993 measure that prevented gays and lesbians from serving openly in the U.S. military.

The lame duck session of Congress also approved a compromise between Obama and GOP leaders that included a two year extension of the Bush-era tax cut levels for all Americans and a one year extension of jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed. Also accomplished this month was the passage of a food safety bill and a temporary budget extension that funds the federal government for another ten weeks.

“The lame duck session adds more evidence that if Obama is trying to copy former President Bill Clinton’s “triangulation” strategy, it’s working,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. “After the GOP took control of Congress in the 1994 midterms, Clinton successfully played the Democrats and Republicans in Congress off each other, helping Clinton look like a leader while burnishing his centrist credentials. Obama may try to replicate that approach.”

This should be viewed against the backdrop of the latest Gallup Poll which shows Obama holding steady at 46 percent — but starting to pick up independent voter and even Republican support:

Liberal Democrats’ approval of Obama remained subdued, averaging 80% in the past week, similar to the 79% in the previous week and below the 88% found just prior to the midterm elections. This is based on Democrats as well as independents who lean Democratic.

Obama’s approval from liberal Democrats is now on par with that from moderate Democrats (78%), although still higher than conservative Democrats’ approval (69%).

In contrast, Obama’s approval rating among moderate/liberal Republicans (including independents who lean Republican) has increased in December, rising from 20% to 29% in just the past two weeks. This is his highest level of support from moderate/liberal Republicans since May.

The bottom line?

There IS a center in American politics. It may change. It may shift a bit left or right. But there is a center. And politicians who’ve captured the center often have clout and can get re-elected.

The jury is still out on Obama.

The question now is this: given how a segment of the Congressional Republicans have been on the losing end of OPINION POLLS on issues such as repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, the START Treaty and helping 911 first responders with health issues, does the stage seem set for GOPers to have a great year as they take strong control of the House and as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell happily signals to all and sundry that Obama ain’t seen nothing yet in terms of obstruction? Does America’s center and even some on America’s left and right want take-no-prisoners partisan politics at a time of national crisis on several fronts?

Or is the stage set for Obama to perhaps wind up as being seen to be the “adult” standing in the middle of a group of politicians who these days seem to be talk show host wannabes more than legislators trying to solve problems?

The question will be: which side overreaches the most and turns off the country’s shifting but existent center?

Here’s another view, from Doug Mataconis, who looks at the CNN poll and writes:

Partly, this is a reflection of the old saying that nothing succeeds like success, and that pretty much everything that has passed this session — the tax cut extension, DADT repeal, and, later today, the START Treaty — has done so with widespread bipartisan public support. Also, despite Republican resistance at the start we’ve seen more bipartisanship over the past five weeks than at any other time during the 111th Congress. Perhaps the folks in Washington should take note of those facts in planning for the future. Of course, they won’t.

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