Thursday, May 13, 2010

Obama and the Moderates

There's been a lot of gloating from Republicans this year that Barack Obama is losing the center, but is that true? Not so much. Obama's approval rating with moderates now is actually higher than the percentage of the vote he got from them in 2008. Right now 64% approve of him and 30% disapprove, while he received 60% of the moderate vote in the election to 39% who voted for John McCain.

Obama's standing with liberals is pretty much unchanged from November 2008 as well. They voted for him by an 89/10 margin and they now approve of him by an 87/10 margin.

The entire drop in Obama's current approval numbers relative to his ballot box performance has come with conservatives. While he actually got 20% of their votes last time, his approval rating with them is now 14%.

That's no big surprise, given that Obama has pushed hard for progressive legislation. It brings up one of those classic conundrums- Obama could have pursued a more limited agenda and had a better chance of keeping those folks happy with him or he could do it all at the risk of turning those conservative voters off. The net result is that while his standing certainly isn't as good as it was a year and a half ago, it's not bad at all for a President given the rabidly anti-politician mood much of the country is in.


Anonymous said...

Moderate is a nickname for liberal-lite, many Democrats are embarassed to call themselves liberals so they call themselves moderates. It's a nice polish like liberals calling themselves progressive.

Tom Jensen said...

So you're saying 63% of Americans are liberals and 37% are conservatives?

Anonymous said...

I only say that most moderates are liberal-lite and the rest are conservative-lite. Every single poll has shown that conservatives outnumber liberals by 2 to 1 though.

Bharat said...

Can we see the poll this post references?

Rasmus said...

I'm no conservative, but for consistency you'd have to include the information that the Exit Poll had 4% more liberals and 4% less Conservatives. I guess because 4% of liberals shifted to the moderate side and 4% of moderates became conservatives .

(somewhat supporting anon's argument that most moderates are just interested in that shiny bipartisan label. Or, they could just have lurked on DailyKos or FreeRepublic and seen that there are a lot of people who are far more to the left/right)

I suppose that shift should have strengthened Obama's numbers with moderates (because pseudo-conservatives were leaving the 'moderate'-pool and pseudo-liberals were added to it) and liberals (because the part that still calls themselves liberal becomes more left-wing) and watered them down with Conservatives- because the additions to the Conservative side were quite moderate before.

So actually the only surprise is that he lost Conservative support when it should have been unchanged or a slight plus for him, percentage-wise. That lets his loss of Conservative support appear even more dramatic.

I think that's probably because all Conservatives now toe the party line, which is why you always have 20% strong unfavorables for ANY Democrat in Rasmussen polls- they would look strongly unfavorably at FDR, were he running to replace Paterson, just because he was a Democrat. Even Hickenlooper has 20% strong unfavorables in their new Colorado poll.

Unknown said...

Conservative, liberal, and moderate mean different things to different people. People on the right like the term "conservative," so it always gets high marks. Yet some "conservatives" might be called "moderates" by other conservatives. So right leaning moderates are undercounted.

"Liberal" is a term many on the left don't like. People on the left want to feel like they're in the center. So they describe themselves as "moderates." So you'll get a lot more people an objective person would call just as left wing as conservatives are right wing calling themselves a moderate.

Obama got 53% of the vote. So if he got 89% of the liberals and 64% of people who are really moderate he'd have gotten over 60% of the vote.

Thus the terms are a poor way to measure where people are on the ideological spectrum.

Anonymous said...

Well yeah, that's because as you say, many "liberal lites" call themselves moderates.
You definition of "liberal" would include a majority of the American people.

Tom Jensen said...

Here's the link to the poll:

Unknown said...

I think it's the opposite. Liberals toe the party line. In Tom's poll 38% of the people consider themselves conservative but only 19% liberals. So if you're going to call yourself liberal you are probably right in tune with the Democratic Party. If you are more moderate on some issues you'll consider yourself moderate.

On the other hand, a lot of people with divergent views consider themselves conservative. I'm a conservative but I have a number of views others don't consider conservative.

Some don't consider themselves Republican because they don't like the party line. Many don't like the party line, which has been big government and adventurism. If anything the Republican Party is adjusting their party line to what conservatives think.

Unknown said...

' Anonymous said...
Well yeah, that's because as you say, many "liberal lites" call themselves moderates.
You definition of "liberal" would include a majority of the American people."

LMAO! Most Americans are stupid. It stands to reason a stupid president got elected by the majority.

Christian Liberty said...

Freshmen Run Away From Obama

"The House Democratic freshmen who rose to power riding candidate Barack Obama ’s coattails in 2008 are now eager to strut their independence heading into the midterms.

Some rookies opposed Obama’s cap-and-trade climate change bill; others rejected his health care plan. But even those members who backed all of the president’s signature initiatives are ready to show that they can win their first re-election bids without leaning on Obama’s star power."

Congress is seeing the limits of Obama's favorability and is eager to run away from his shadow.

Web Statistics