As President Barack Obama makes the rounds of network talk shows (except Fox) and the conventional wisdom is that his political fortunes are starting to sag at an alarming rate, a new CNN poll of polls finds that Obama’s poll numbers are holding remarkably steady:
President Barack Obama’s approval rating is holding steady in the mid-50’s, according to a new CNN Poll of Polls.
Fifty-five percent of Americans approve of how Obama’s handling his duties in the White House, according to the CNN Poll of Polls, which averaged the six national surveys taken since the president addressed a joint session of Congress on September 9. Thirty-nine percent, on average, disapprove.
The 55 percent approval rating is almost identical to the 54 percent mark that Obama had in August, according to an average of national surveys conducted last month. “The early part of the summer was a bad time for Obama, whose average approval dropped 7 points during that period. But since then, his average approval rating has stabilized in the mid 50s,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.
Protests at health care town halls held by members of Congress in their home states and districts received a lot of attention in the news media in August and early September. Many of those demonstrations were directed against the President and his proposals on health care reform.
“It looks like the town hall protests in August didn’t drive his ratings down, but it also looks like his nationally televised speech didn’t do much to push his ratings up,” Holland says.
CNN then looks at how hs 55 percent number stacks up to the September polling of others who were President:
That mark puts him substantially ahead of Bill Clinton and right in the same ballpark as Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, and Richard Nixon, says Holland. “Obama is well behind both Bushes, but bear in mind that George W. Bush’s mid-September ratings for 2001 were affected by 9/11,” he says. “It’s impossible to say what his approval rating would have been if 9/11 had not occurred, but the best guess is that Bush would have probably been in the mid-to-low 50s.”
Obama has been busy today doing the Sunday morning show circuit. Some analysts have suggested that what is occuring with Obama is that he is holding on relatively firm to the key elements of the coalition that elected him but in his sagging poll numbers over the summer he was losing many of the GOPers and some (but not all) independent voters who voted for him. August was marked by the town hall meeting furor, with angry conservative Republicans — and by Obama’s relative silence or low key responses. But now he is clearly on the move.
Here’s the video of today’s Meet the Press containing Obama’s comments, the GOP’s response and the show’s always intriguging political roundtable (the complete show runs about 47 minutes). Obama’s interview is up first:
The AP offers these highlights from his interviews this morning.
Pollster.com’s graph of polls confirms CNN’s conclusion. Note how Obama’s numbers are relatively steady now — down from his huge numbers immediately he was elected (before the full throttle GOP campaign against him was in full geara and before he moved into a new chapter where in the eyes of the public he began to “own” part of the country’s economic when hopes were high that the recovery would be quicker):
Real Clear Politics’ poll average finds the same thing:
The likely meaning: When Obama goes on these shows, voters who voted for him or who were wavering in their support of him will listen to his arguments and explanations. He therefore does have a chance to solidify support if he can break through the new and old media’s preference for stories involving conflict and anger. And on a Sunday — when talk radio shows aren’t broadcasting — he has a chance to do it.
Those who don’t like him won’t listen to him anyway, since their minds are made up, and also in part made up for them when they listen to talk radio shows and how those shows’ hosts frames issues.
Bottom line: He is still hodling key parts of the constituency that elected him.
But there are dangers for Obama. The National Journal, in a piece about Colorado, notes that Obama and the Democrats could well lose their 2008 foothold there:
For Democrats, the Mountain West has been one of this decade’s towering success stories. After the 2000 election, Republicans dominated the region’s eight states at every level. But since 2004, Democrats have steadily gained ground in both state and federal elections, especially in the rapidly growing southwestern states of Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., wasn’t exaggerating at the summit when he declared, “Western Democrats have enjoyed stunning successes over the last three elections.”
Now, however, amid a fierce conservative backlash against President Obama’s agenda, Democrats face an escalating challenge to defend those advances in 2010. All signs show the momentum shifting toward Republicans in a region that has traditionally resisted the sort of assertive federal initiatives that Obama has offered on issues from the economic stimulus to health care. “Here in the West, there is a really strong concern about overly intrusive government policies,” said Nicole McCleskey, a New Mexico-based Republican pollster. “I think there’s a sense that maybe we overcorrected a little in the last election, we maybe went too far to that [Democratic] side, and now we are seeing the bounce-back.”
Over the long term, the demographic and economic trends reshaping the region could still bolster Democrats if Republicans don’t adapt to them more successfully than they have so far. But the unease in these states about Obama’s first months, unease that echoes his party’s difficulties here during Bill Clinton’s presidency, raises questions about Democrats’ ability to maintain their support in the Mountain West while pursuing a national agenda that inflames the region’s historic suspicion of Washington.
UPDATE: The Huffington Post has this post with highlights from Obama’s Sunday blitz — including video highlights from his appearances on all of the networks (minus Fox).
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.