A Clear Sign, But What Does It Say?

I have not written much at all about President Obama’s Approval Ratings in the polls since he was inaugurated in January, but noting the recent trend it seems appropriate to do so now.

I have said many times that for me, the gold standard in opinion polling is the Gallup Organization. This is due not only to Gallup’s long history, but also because Gallup follows a very consistent methodology and set of questions. This allows interested researchers the opportunity to track support within a poll over a period of time, to better gauge the actual cause and effect of his policies and decisions.

The people at Real Clear Politics provide a very useful resource, where general polling support can be easily tracked.

Looking at these polls, the following polls provide a track of Obama’s job approval since January:

Gallup: 68% when sworn in, 56% now, loss of 12 points
Rasmussen: 62% when sworn in, 50% now, loss of 12 points
CBS/NYT: 63% February 22, 58% now, loss of 5 points
NBC/WSJ: 60% March 1, 53% now, loss of 7 points
Pew: 64% February 8, 54% now, loss of 10 points
NPR: 59% March 14, 53% now, loss of 6 points
FOX: 65% when sworn in, 54% now, loss of 11 points

In every case of long-term tracking, President Obama’s levels of job approval are the lowest overall he has seen since taking office, across the board.

But a closer look shows the problem may be more serious, nothing to worry about, or paradoxically, both.

In addition to a high-level overview, the Gallup Organization also publishes support by demographic groups.

An examination of those 28 demographic groups, determined by gender, age, geographic region, race, education, wages, political affiliation and orientation shows that in 22 of 28 demographic categories, support for President Obama is at its lowest or tried for the lowest level since he took office. The six demographic areas where support for President Obama is not at its nadir, are Non-White voters (85% support highest on April 26, 75% lowest on April 5, presently at 79%), Black voters (96% highest on July 5, May 4, and March 8, lowest at 86% on January 25, presently at 95%), Hispanic voters (85% highest on April 26, 70% lowest on April 5 and March 22, presently at 72%), Voters making below $24,000 a year (76% highest on May 4, 66% lowest on June 21, presently at 68%), Republicans (41% highest on January 25, 20% lowest on July 12, presently at 21%), and Liberals (90% highest on June 28, May 31, May 24, and April 26, 83% lowest on January 25, presently at 86%). All of those demographics are relative minorities to the voting population at this time.

Even with the loss of support, however, President Obama still enjoys support levels above 50% across the board, indicating that his personal popularity is strong and the general theme of his administration is well-received. Therefore, it may be reasonable to consider the loss of support nothing more than a shaking out of the fair-weather support, and displaying a strong core of support for the President. That is, of course, assuming his numbers do not continue to fall.

It should, however, be noted that President Obama has lost significant support among major demographic groups. Between February 1 and July 26, President Obama lost twelve points of support from female voters, who were the dominant gender in the 2008 election. White voters made up 74% of the electorate in the 2008 election, and since taking office President Obama’s support among whites has fallen sixteen points according to Gallup. The largest demographic age group in the 2008 election was the 30-49 age group; among this group President Obama has lost twelve points since taking office. Among moderates, the largest political philosophy demographic, President Obama has lost ten points since taking office. The South was the most important geographic region in the 2008 election, and among Southern voters, President Obama has lost twelve points of support since taking office. In the 2008 election, the largest demographic by education was the ‘Some College’ category, and in that category President Obama has lost fifteen points of support since taking office. And among voters earning between sixty thousand and ninety thousand dollars a year, again the largest demographic in their section, President Obama has seen his support fall by twenty points since taking office. The conclusion is unavoidable that, if this loss of support is not rebuilt and assuming the Republicans can present a credible candidate, that at this time President Obama has seriously damaged his re-election chances, since every dominant demographic group from the 2008 election has significantly reduced support for the President since his Inauguration.

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