I’m a believer

As I said earlier in the week (“It’s not the oceans that are sinking, but Obama!”), I had not paid much attention to Obama’s slowly lowering polls over the last eight months, because (1) Obama’s numbers had to decline somewhat from their early heights, (2) polls go down and up and I thought the mainstream conservatives were too greedily desirous to see every slight drop in his popularity as signaling his Waterloo, and (3) his approval ratings were still above 50 percent, so the downward dips didn’t seem truly significant. But as of this week, with Obama’s approval slipping decisively below 50 percent in the Rasmussen and Zogby polls (though not in other polls, see RCP), and also with stunning declines of support for Obama among Democrats, young people, blacks, Hispanics, Independents, and the elderly (see Morris-McGann column below), I think we can say that something extraordinary has happened: the messiah who had all the winds of history and racial destiny at his back, the god-king of post-white America, the Pharoah of humanity, has undergone an unprecedented loss of support for a first year president. He may recover; but as of now the collapse is real.

September 2, 2009

THIS week’s polls are a disaster for President Obama. The Rasmussen poll has his approval dropping to 45 percent, after several weeks at 49 percent. The Zogby poll has it even lower—at 42 percent.

Worse yet, he’s losing his political base:

* People un- der 30—long a key element of his support—give him no better than break-even ratings, with 41 percent approving and 41 percent disapproving of the job he’s doing, according to Zogby.

* Only 75 percent of Democrats, who formerly have supported Obama strongly, now approve of his performance in office. Zogby reports that this represents a slide of more than 10 points over the summer.

* Even among blacks, only 74 percent approve of the job he’s doing (also a drop of more than 10 points).

* Hispanics, who voted for him by a margin of more than 40 points, now break even (36-36) when rating his performance.

Independents, the key swing group in our politics, now deliver a sharply negative 37-50 verdict on Obama’s job performance. The elderly also give him negative ratings by 42-51.

This poll-implosion leaves Obama with few good options.

He obviously can’t get 60 votes in the Senate for his health-care proposals in their current form. No Republican will support them, and moderate Democrats aren’t likely to vote with him.

If he tries to pass it with 50 votes, using so-called reconciliation procedures, he may also fail—because he’d also lose the votes of less-moderate Democrats who’d quail at using parliamentary tricks to pass such a radical, unpopular program.

If Obama waters down his proposals to attract moderate support, he’d lose votes on the left—perhaps more than he’d gain, at this point.

Yet the longer he takes to resolve this political problem, the more his ratings will slip—diminishing his power to achieve anything. No president with support in the 30s would be able to push through a program like his health-care agenda.

It now looks like health-care reform will cripple the Obama presidency, as it did Bill Clinton’s in 1993.

Of course, Clinton was able to move to the center and secure re-election in 1996. But can a true believer like Obama do the same? He’s shown a willingness to move to the center on foreign policy, leaving troops in Iraq and adding them in Afghanistan. But on the domestic front, the only area where he’s been willing to embrace centrist positions is education.

At best, Obama will be months if not years recovering from this disaster. In the short term, he’s likely to finish September wishing he’d stayed in Martha’s Vineyard.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at September 04, 2009 12:59 PM | Send

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