A new CBS News/New York Times poll has President Barack Obama hitting his highest approval yet in his short-tenure in the White House — and indicates that he has put together a coalition of Democrats and independent voters that is blunting a high level of Republican opposition:
As President Obama concludes his well-publicized trip to Europe, Americans are more positive about the respect accorded to a U.S. president than they have been in years, according to a new CBS News/New York Times poll.
Sixty-seven percent say world leaders respect Mr. Obama, while 18 percent say they do not respect the president. That’s a sharp contrast to the response when this question was asked about Mr. Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, in July 2006: Just 30 percent then said the president is respected by the leaders of other countries.
Mr. Obama’s overall approval rating, meanwhile, has hit a new high of 66 percent, up from 64 percent last month. His disapproval rating stands at 24 percent. Nearly all Democrats and most independents approve of the way the president is handling his job, while only 31 percent of Republicans approve.
Further examination most likely will find that the Republicans who approve of Obama are not solid members of the talk-radio-political culture that now dominates the GOP. Monitoring of several and national political conservative talk shows today found a common theme: Obama is the most divisive President in American history because he has such low numbers. These talk show hosts said he was more divisive than George Bush.
The problem for the GOP: Obama has put together — at this point at least — the kind of winning coalition that could propel governance. He has Democrats and a solid number of independents.
It’s hard to bring most Republicans into the fold if — using what was on talk radio today — they believe Obama will take everyone’s guns away, eliminate conservative talk radio, surrender national sovereignty to a Europe-based “new world order,” bow to the Saudi King (didn’t George Bush hold a Saudi official’s hand?), doom America to foreign oil dependence by protecting national lands Bush tried to open up to drilling, usher in socialism, undermine the military and kowtow to Muslims. Conservative talk which does have considerable influence among many in the GOP — it now sets a tone and in effect the talking points for many in the party both in Congress and on the Internet — has jumped the shark in recent weeks.
It has long been said that the party that can best win over the independent voters can win elections and govern. At this point that’s what Obama is doing. The prospects of him winning over many Republicans is bleak while talk radio plays a role in hammering home the suggestion that he is a radical, peace-mongering, ultra-leftist out to undo the founding father’s work and destroy freedom of speech.
UPDATE: A Pew Research Center poll finds an even greater degree of polarization:
For all of his hopes about bipartisanship, Barack Obama has the most polarized early job approval ratings of any president in the past four decades. The 61-point partisan gap in opinions about Obama’s job performance is the result of a combination of high Democratic ratings for the president — 88% job approval among Democrats — and relatively low approval ratings among Republicans (27%).
Re-read our earlier comments above.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.