Is the bottom about to fall out of Obama’s base?

When Obama’s approval rating dropped to 39 points in the Gallup daily tracking poll a couple of weeks ago I made an exception and covered it, because here at long last was a genuinely new low in his approval rating, rather than an old low being falsely puffed as a new low.

According to Dick Morris, Obama’s approval rating is going to go much lower. In his September 1st “lunch alert” video presentation, Morris says that while Obama’s approval is now between 40 and 38 percent, one third of those who approve of him say they are disappointed in him. What this means, Morris continues, is that those people may be on the verge of switching from approval of Obama to non-approval, potentially dropping his approval rating from the high 30s to the high 20s.

As a further index of how bad things look for Obama, Morris points out that his steady very high approval among blacks, about 78 percent, means that blacks represent nine or ten percent of the country out of the 38 percent of the country that approves of him (78 percent of the 13 percent of the country that is black is about ten percent of the country). If Obama’s overall approval rating drops to 27 percent, “one out of every three people who approve of him will be black, and his percentage among white and Latino voters is minuscule. So I think Obama is heading for serious trouble….”

However, a major problem in Morris’s analysis is that, as you can see at this Wikipedia page, all the polling organizations apart from Gallup show Obama’s approval as substantially higher than 38 percent, averaging in the mid 40s. And the mid 40s, let us remember, is where Obama has essentially been for the last year and a half, even as mainstream conservatives constantly huffed and puffed that he was sinking to unprecedented lows.

- end of initial entry -

September 5

Alexis Zarkov writes:

Mr. Auster writes, “all the polling organizations apart from Gallup show Obama’s approval as substantially higher than 38 percent, averaging in the mid 40s.” This is not correct. His overall approval rating is currently 41.6 percent, which is an all time low. His current approval rating is not in the mid 40s. Some of the numbers in the Wikipedia table are out of date, and one cannot take a simple average to arrive at a valid estimate. does the averaging properly. They use an advanced smoothing technique based on the Kalman filter which assigns a weighting to the various pollsters based on their position in time, and the known performance of the pollster. The “margin of error” (MOE) pollsters give does not capture the true pollster error, which is much larger. The MOE only pertains to sample size. Two polls from different pollsters with the same MOE don’t have the same error. provides the best estimate of Obama’s overall approval you will get anywhere because it properly combines the available polling information. Don’t go to Wikipedia, go to

As I have written before, polls this far from the election are essentially meaningless as a predictor of who will win the presidency in 2012. Political science forecasting does much better. Political scientist David Brady of Stanford University in an interview with Russ Roberts said:

“That model says at this point Barack Obama can expect 46.6 percent of the vote. Not good.”

To which Roberts replied:

“Right. But no one I know believes that. And the reason is, well, I don’t think the economy will recover enough to give him on the model a winner.”

By “that model” Brady means one of the political science forecasting models. When he says, “But no one I know believes that … ” he means no one believes that Obama will do that well because the economy is getting worse, not better. VFR readers might want to read or listen to the entire interview as it provides a wealth of information about happened in the 2010 election and what is likely to happen in the 2012 election. Good stuff for people who want to follow presidential politics.

At this point the future looks bleak for Obama. The big issue is the economy, and not what Perry or other Republicans believe about evolution or abortion. If the economy gets worse, it will not matter who the Republicans run, unless they pick someone like Palin. I doubt they will. This time around the Republicans are so scared they have become pragmatic [LA replies: you mean pragmatic like when they picked Bush in ‘92, Dole in ‘96, and McCain in ‘08?]. They will pick a nominee who has the best chance of winning and swallow his faults. Obama knows this, and it looks like he’s making a mad dash for the center as you can see from his recent policy change on air quality standards. This shift has his base hopping mad.

I completely agree with Mr. Auster that Republicans have a tendency to get delusional about Obama, and that these occasional low approval ratings don’t mean much. However, for the reasons above, I now think that Obama is in big trouble, and is on a path to losing in 2012. The Democrats will run a negative campaign and hope for the best. If they can’t find dirt on the Republican nominee, then they will simply make something up and hope it sticks. That strategy might work if the press is sufficiently compliant, but that’s unlikely. They seem fed up with him too.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at September 04, 2011 09:44 PM | Send

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