Swing State Pres

Monday, January 12, 2015

December Month in Review: Lame Duck Dynasty? Obama Goes it Alone...and Up Goes His Approval Rating

Shortly after the Democrats lost control of the House in 1994 for the first time in 40 years, Bill Clinton felt compelled to proclaim at a news conference “I’m still relevant.”

"Who needs Congress?"
Barack Obama suffers no such angst.  After seeing his party – and, by his own admission, his policies -- thrashed in the midterms, Obama has emerged unabashed.  Far from meekly seeking cooperation with Congressional Republicans on a limited set of “common ground” issues, Obama instead has acted unilaterally to propel his agenda.  From the executive action on immigration, to the new climate change deal with China, to the thawing of relations with Cuba, Obama is working forcefully (and without Congress) to establish his legacy as a game-changing President.

And guess what?  Americans kind of like it.  They may not always approve of his methods, but the needle is clearly moving up.  Obama’s approval rating, stuck at exactly 43% from June to December of 2014, is up to 46% in the last month, including several Rasmussen (which usually notoriously favor the GOP) readings in early January showing him at 50-51%.

From the euphoria of Election Night, when the GOP claimed both houses of Congress for the first time in eight years, things have not gone well for the GOP.  The era of good feelings that John Boehner and Mitch McConnell have desperately tried to usher in has been derailed in many ways.  Let us count:  Obama is not playing along, as per above; the economy is suddenly roaring (5% GDP growth, 5.6% unemployment), undercutting key GOP messages; the Tea Party wing of the party is cranky enough to have mounted a clumsy, embarrassing (and unsuccessful) challenge to Boehner’s leadership; the #3 ranked GOP rep Steve Scalise of Louisiana got caught in the vortex of a scandal stemming from his decision to speak to a Klannish organization a dozen years ago; and now the Heritage Foundation is bummed because the big GOP lead-off issue is…drumroll… the Keystone pipeline, a largely symbolic (rather than bold) first step, and one that Obama will veto anyway.  Whew!

"Control Congress?  We can't even control the GOP."
The GOP message is suddenly floundering.  Mitch McConnell was reduced to claiming that the recent good economic news was due to the changing of the guard in Congress.  This laughable assertion conveniently ignores the fact that the GOP’s approval rating is low (around 38%) and lower than the Dems (40-ish%), the approval rating of Congress is at a ridiculous 10-11%, and a CNN poll in December shows that fully 70% of Americans think the GOP will do a “worse” or “no different” job in running the Senate than the Dems did.  And McConnell’s own approval rating (22%) is even lower than Boehner’s (23%), Reid’s (23%) and Pelosi’s (27%).

Might the GOP have been better positioned for 2016 had they continued as the minority in the Senate until then?  This could be a classic case of “beware of what you wish for.”  Stay tuned….

OBAMA APPROVAL RATING

As stated, there is discernable upward movement in Obama’s approval numbers for the first time in a very long time, and his 45.7% rating is his highest since August, 2013.  The net is down to -5.  If the trend continues, 2016 Democratic presidential contenders will have some serious thinking to do about how far to distance themselves from the Obama presidency in the year-and-a-half-plus-long campaign they will shortly undertake.

Obama Approval Rating
Election Day 2012
5-Oct
10-Nov
8-Dec
12-Jan
  Approve
49.6
43.4
43.1
43.8
45.7
  Disapprove
47.4
52.5
52.4
52.1
50.7
  Net
2.2
-9.1
-9.3
-8.3
-5.0

ECONOMETER

The state of the economy keeps improving, with the “Econometer” rising to +99.9 from an Election Day, 2012 baseline of zero.  Every indicator has improved significantly since then, as seen below, and that baseline itself was light-years ahead of where it was when Bush handed Obama the baton in January, 2009 (it was at -73 then).  Even other data points that pointed to less progress, notably personal income, have started to rise.  The economy usually plays a key role in any campaign, and the GOP certainly bludgeoned Obama on the so-called tepid pace of the recovery in 2010, 2012 and 2014.  But the Dems may fight back on this issue in 2016.

Econometer
Election Day 2012
5-Oct
10-Nov
8-Dec
12-Jan
Econometer
0.0
73.8
82.1
89.4
99.9






  Unemployment Rate
7.9
5.9
5.8
5.8
5.6
  Consumer Confidence
73.1
86.0
94.5
88.7
92.6
  Price of Gas
3.71
3.47
3.29
2.94
2.52
  Dow Jones
 13,330
    17,066
    16,836
    17,758
    17,693
  GDP
3.1
4.2
3.5
3.9
5.0

OBAMACARE RATINGS

The growing strength of the economy has undercut one of the GOP’s key talking points – that Obamacare is destroying the economy and killing jobs.  Neither appear to be true, and the rate of health care cost increases are in fact the lowest in ages.  There may even be some modest upward movement in approval of the ACA, but the numbers actually vary wildly among the few polls that ask a variation of that question.  We’ll see how the GOP handles the ACA in Congress, but it already appears their mode will be more “fix it” than “repeal it.”  But Obama has a veto all ready to go if Congress passes a law to raise the workweek cutoff for health benefits from 30 to 40 hours per week.

Obamacare
Election Day 2012
5-Oct
10-Nov
8-Dec
12-Jan
  For/Favor
40.0
39.4
38.3
40.3
37.7
  Oppose/Against
50.8
51.9
51.7
54.0
49.3
  Net
-10.8
-12.4
-13.4
-13.7
-11.7

CONGRESSIONAL GENERIC BALLOT

Our first readings of America’s take on Congress since the election show a leveling out of the generic ballot between Democrats and the GOP.  Obviously it is way too early for this to be a judgment on GOP control.

Generic Ballot
Election Day 2012
5-Oct
10-Nov
8-Dec
12-Jan
  Democrat
46.3
41.4
43.0
40.3
39.0
  Republican
46.0
43.3
44.8
41.8
39.2
  Net
0.3
-1.8
-1.8
-1.5
-0.2

2016 PRESIDENTIAL RACE

The “silent primary” is underway as potential candidates take symbolic steps and test the waters of donor support.  Jeb Bush quite unexpectedly made the first move, a preemptive strike in setting up the requisite committee to explore his candidacy, designed to keep Mitt Romney out and sew up the “mainstream” (read: establishment money) wing of the party over Chris Christie.  Romney, however, continues to float a potential third run, and Christie continues his appeal to the hard right by vetoing the so-called “pig bill” in New Jersey (a sop to hard right Iowan farmers) and hobnobbing with Dallas Cowboys’ (“America’s Team”) owner Jerry Jones through the NFL playoffs.  Why Christie wants anything to do with the brand-bruised NFL at this particular time is beyond me, but red state politics will do that to GOP wannabees.

Hillary still dominates the Dems, and Romney remains ahead of the passel of GOP hopefuls.  Those of you who desire new faces will not be pleased with the two names atop each of these charts.


8-Dec
12-Jan

8-Dec
12-Jan
  Clinton
61
63
  Romney
20
20
  Biden
12
11
  Bush
10
14
  Warren
9
11
  Christie
8
9
  Sanders
5
4
  Huckabee
6
7
  Webb
1
2
  Paul
6
7
  Cuomo
1
2
  Carson
9
7
  O'Malley
1
1
  Ryan
6
6
  All other
6
  Cruz
5
5
  Walker
5
5
  Rubio
3
4
  Perry
3
4
  Kasich
2
2
  Jindal
2
2
  Santorum
2
2
  Fiorina

1
  Pence
1

  All other
12
5


1 comment:

  1. You make no mention of purse strings by Congress nor the reasons for Obama's Islamic favortism

    ReplyDelete

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