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Posted by on Feb 14, 2009 in Media, Politics | 6 comments

Polls: Obama Still Polls Well And Republicans Still Poll Badly

While visiting Marco Island, Florida, where this post is written, I’ve kept in touch with events by watching cable programs on all cable channels and listening to talk radio on the left and right. And nearly all of these info-outlets suggest some political shift is now occurring:

President Barack Obama is on the run or on the wane…undermined by no or little GOP support on the stimulus…now losing the support of Americans because he hasn’t yielded more to Republican demands and because he seems increasingly reliant on a Congressional coalition comprised of a solid bloc of Democrats and three Senate moderate GOPers..

Is Obama in a bubble?

But according to a report in The Politico the people who are in a bubble could be the new and old media political class — those who write the analylsis stories, the angry blog posts (often going after other writers who dare to see things in a different way then they do), readers who email insults to people on the left, right and center who disagree with them (the best ones we get are the ones that suggest that someone greatly respects you if they agree with you and disrespect and hate you if dare don’t agree with them), and talk show hosts of the left and right (this radio market offers both sides and the left and right talkers often seem a mirror image of each other as they throw read meat out to their partisans and whip up rage against the other side..and the idea of bipartisanship).

In fact, The Politico suggests the polls haven’t changed much (yet): Obama is still getting high numbers from most Americans and the Republicans still look like they have a lot of convincing to do before they regain the support of a larger number of Americans:

With Barack Obama’s victory in passing a massive stimulus package marred by days of bad press—as not a single House Republican backed the bill, his Health Czar went down in flames and his second pick for Commerce Secretary walked away—the administration has been cut down to size, and lost some of its bipartisan sheen.

Such, at least, has been the beltway chatter, but so far the numbers don’t back it up.

Obama’s approval rating remains well above 60% in tracking polls. A range of state pollsters said they’d seen no diminution in the president’s sky-high approval ratings, and no improvement in congressional Republicans’ dismal numbers.

And that’s before the stimulus creates billions of dollars in spending on popular programs, which could, at least temporarily, further boost Obama’s popularity.

“It’s eerie—I read the news from the Beltway, and there’s this disconnect with the polls from the Midwest that I see all around me,” said Ann Seltzer, the authoritative Iowa pollster who works throughout the Midwest.

That’s a perception treasured by Obama’s aides, who spent a two-year presidential campaign safeguarding “the brand,” as they called it, of a new, post-partisan sort of political figure.

In fact, there are two MUST-READ BOOKS for anyone who seriously wants to study the concept of centrism and moderation as a style that has worked well in American history:

1. John Avlon’s The Independent Nation

2. Gil Troy’s Leading from the Center

These books also note that centrists and moderates are most assuredly not the equivalent of blank-faced C-SPAN hosts, nodding their heads, seemingly afraid to take a side and carefully not reaching conclusions. Troy writes extensively of “muscular moderation” and documents its role throughout American history. Centrists and moderates can and do reach conclusions and take stands and their stands they take may tilt at times more to the right or left. And, at times, straight down the center.

One possibility: Perhaps polls have yet not caught up with shifting sentiment yet as Republicans who voted against Bush return to the party fold as articulated by Rush Limbaugh and Mitch McConnell. Such a time lag can’t be ruled out. A true polling trend will be indicated by a large number of polls showing a shift more or less in the same direction. (We run results of some daily tracking polls here but those provide a less reliable overview than general polling trending.

Another possibility:While Obama is finding that bipartisanship isn’t easy, perhaps the new and old media political class is so wired into the way politics has operated that it is not yet tuned into the new realities of a 21st century America that could be emerging from the baby boomer influenced era that has been most marked by a demonization and “good-guys-us against bad-guys-them” polarization mind-set. This mind-set is not new to American history at all — but the baby boomer generation seems to have made it its political legacy. (P.S. I am a baby boomer, too, but that doesn’t mean I like everything we’ve done or failed to do..)