Friday, August 19, 2011

Obama's Base Problem

There's been plenty of bad news for Barack Obama this month in the form of his approval numbers, but our polling finds that his problems go deeper than that. Democratic enthusiasm about voting in next year's election has hit a record low this month.

Only 48% of Democrats on our most recent national survey said they were 'very excited' about voting in 2012. On the survey before that the figure was 49%. Those last two polls are the only times all year the 'very excited' number has dipped below 50%.

In 13 polls before August the average level of Democrats 'very excited' about voting next year had averaged 57%. It had been as high as 65% and only twice had the number even dipped below 55%.

It had seemed earlier in the year like Democrats had overcome the 'enthusiasm gap' that caused so much of their trouble in last year's elections. But now 54% of Republicans say they're 'very excited' about casting their ballots next year, indicating that the problem may be back.

The debt deal really does appear to have demoralized the base, and the weird thing about it is that this is one issue where if Obama had done what folks on the left wanted him to do, he also would have had the support of independents. The deal has proven to be a complete flop in swing states where we've polled it like Colorado, North Carolina, and Ohio. And in every single one of those states a majority of voters overall, as well as a majority of independents, think new taxes are going to be needed to solve the deficit problem.

In Colorado it's 59/31 overall and 55/33 with independents for more taxes. In North Carolina it's 53/32 overall and 56/31 with independents for more taxes. And in Ohio it's 54/37 overall and 55/37 with independents for more taxes. It's obviously not like these voters want more taxes- no one does. But they do see them as necessary and Obama antagonized his base with the deal he cut on this issue without doing anything to help himself with independents or Republicans.

It's a long way until November 2012 and Obama certainly has time to redeem himself but for the first time in his Presidency I really do think he has an issue with the Democratic base.


Anonymous said...

I should say so. Maxine Waters and DeFazio of Oregon are both highly critical of Obama.

In political parlance, this means the wheels are coming off the carr.

conspiracy said...

"...if Obama had done what folks on the left wanted him to do, he also would have had the support of independents."

Absolutely ridiculous statement. How was he meant to get it through the Republican House? He tried his damnest. Comments like this are part of the problem. Seriously, some liberals think they elected a dictator in 2008.

John Emerson said...

The Obama campaign at the moment consists of "Nader!" and "Bachmann!" I don't see how a political party with so much contempt for its constitutencies can expect to survive.

Anonymous said...

When are you going to release the full numbers for this poll?

Would love to see how these Democratic enthusiasm numbers compare with Republicans, as well as how things stack up with overall approval/ disapproval numbers as well as sample match-ups.

This is an interesting tease. When are we going to see the rest of the numbers?

Marvin Marks said...

It seems like the GOP is going to take care of the enthusiasm problem... Many liberals who are not enthusiastic about voting for Obama will enthusiastically vote against Rick Perry.

Todd Dugdale said...

Liberals and conservatives are roughly equal in the national surveys on the enthusiasm question. It's the moderates that seem to have taken the worst beating.
Independents are not very enthusiastic, either.

Still, if you include "somewhat enthusiastic", D/R breaks 78/82 in the most recent survey. That's not too bad.

Also, the 18-29 demographic has "very excited" figures in the low to high 50's (and even 60's in May). Your latest figures show that 18-29 is at 59% "very excited" compared to 54% for Republicans. And the 65+ demographic's enthusiasm has been depressed.

Anonymous said...

You've never polled me, but I am a North Carolina voter who worked hard to get the President elected. I am so, so disappointed in him. Very disheartened. My husband, my mother, and most of my colleagues feel the same way. I'll vote for him over Bachmann or Perry, but honestly if Mitt Romney is elected, I don't think we'll be any worse off than we are right now.

Anonymous said...

Social Security and Medicare are popular.

It makes sense that Obama offering to cut Social Security (by changing how inflation is calculated) and to cut Medicare (by raising the eligibility age from 65 to 67) would hurt Obama's popularity.

- Eric Jaffa

commoncents said...

Thank You for posting this! We've been all over this on Common Cents...

Common Cents

MidPointMan said...

Just because Independents think taxes will be needed does not mean they want them.

They will still vote for the guy who they think is least likely to raise their taxes, and Obama made that promise enough in 2008 that he got their votes.

To me, this poll says that Obama's promise on that issue will not be believed this time around.

Obama will be the guy most likely to raise taxes on the Middle Class simply because you can get any where near balance without that. You could tax the top 2% at 100% and still not balance the budget without deep cuts.

If Obama had raised taxes on the rich we would still have a $1 Trillion deficit. If I am in the Middle Class I think I know who gets it next, right?

Remember, this is Bush's recession, but Obama's deficits and his recovery.

He owns the baggage for the consequences of those deficits.

Donna Miller said...

"Absolutely ridiculous statement. How was he meant to get it through the Republican House? He tried his damnest. Comments like this are part of the problem. Seriously, some liberals think they elected a dictator in 2008."

No more ridiculous than the Republican House ramming a cuts-only deal through the Democratic Senate and White House. We heard incessantly during the past decade about how helpless the Democrats were before the Mighty Pow'r of King Bush. Now the Presidency is suddenly limited when Obama refuses to use it for progressive ends.

The Republicans cannot stop Obama from getting out of Afghanistan this year instead of 2014. They didn't make him bomb Libya. They didn't make him adopt most of the Bush-Cheney positions on civil liberties.

conspiracy said...

"And in every single one of those states a majority of voters overall, as well as a majority of independents, think new taxes are going to be needed to solve the deficit problem."

News for you - SO DOES OBAMA!!! The Republican House wouldn't go for it. This stuff is like banging your head against a brick wall.

conspiracy said...

Donna, Bush had conservative Democrats supporting him in the Senate. Obama has Republicans voting lockstep against him and plenty of Democrats too on things like closing Guantanamo. Unless he clones himself 278 times and runs and wins House and Senate races across the country there is only so much he can do.

Anonymous said...

Give it a rest, conspiracy. There's plenty Obama could do. People can smell the bullshit on him now. He's either an idiot or a Republican. And i won't vote for either.

Pat said...

"It's obviously not like these voters want more taxes- no one does."

Not true; many voters want more taxes. They just want more taxes on the other guy.

conspiracy said...

Final word on this - the crosstabs of the same poll do not support the hypothesis.

Conservatives are only two points more excited than liberals, 60-58. Moderates clock in at just 40% very excited. If you go through the president's job approval then this makes sense since we still find that the more conservative the voter the higher their disapproval - liberals actually approve 81-15 (80-17 the previous week), moderates 54-39 (57-39 previously) and conservatives 13-85 (19-78 previously). Democrats still approve 77-18 (exactly the same figure as the previous week). This all says to me that the vast majority of opposition to the president within the party is still from the right and not the left. And similarly, Obama's job approval numbers are down because of increased moderate and conservative disapproval and not liberal disenchantment.

Whispers said...

"News for you - SO DOES OBAMA!!! The Republican House wouldn't go for it. This stuff is like banging your head against a brick wall."

There's leadership for you. Even though Democrats control both the Senate and the Presidency, those pesky intransigent Republicans in the House forced the Democrats to do their bidding.

Flashback 2 years: Even with large popular support for health care reform, control of the House, and 60 Senators, Democrats cannot manage to get health care reform done because of the power of the mighty filibuster.

Flashback 2 years more: Even after stunning losses in the mid-term elections that give control of both houses of Congress to the Democrats, somehow President Bush is able to continue to get his agenda implemented, essentially unabated.

You know, at some point, it starts to look like the Democratic party leadership isn't trying to get anything done.

Anonymous said...

I'm a North Carolinian that always votes. I have a cell phone only, so I'm never polled.

I've voted for Democratic presidents my entire life, and talked friends and family skeptical of Obama into voting for him in 2008.

I will now vote against Obama -- no matter who the opposition is -- and encourage others to do the same no matter their motives.

This liberal is fed up with the Democratic party delivering nothing (2008-2010, plus Obama's dealing with the GOP after 2010) and expecting my continued fealty.

I will gladly cost Obama a second term to teach the Democratic party and the professional political class a lesson in listening to the liberal base.

carol.lemieux said...

Anonymous said:

The problem with your attitude and approach is it could put a GOP/Tea party candidate in the Presidential office.

If you think it was bad under Bush, any one of the far right candidates will seal the coffin that is now the US economy. They will also be free to move forward with destroying the middle class, Social Security and turning the US, the congress and the senate into one who corporate owned entity.

Matt P said...

Anonymous: it's logic like yours that gave us Bush in 2000. Were you happy with how that "lesson" turned out?

Anonymous said...

"Obama certainly has time to redeem himself"

Not legislatively, he doesn't. That ship sailed with the 111th Congress. Vigorously prosecuting Wall Street would make me vote for him, but it appears he has no such intentions and is indeed trying to keep Schnedierman et al from prosecuting or even investigating at the state level. I have absolutely no interest in the "tough" partisan rhetoric he is beginning to deploy. He fooled a lot of people with it in 2008, but now we know who he is by what he does, so it doesn't matter what he says.

Anonymous said...

I am the independent voter both parties are courting. I voted Perot, Perot, Buchanan and then stayed home [hoping someone would OFf Bush or Cheney but it didn't happen]

I voted O because I believed him. I was completely swept off my feet by talk of revolution coming to Washington.

Then - he named Emanuel? OMG. Pity the Palestinians.

Then he named Geithner? Summers? and kept Gates????


anyway....Obama has been wonderful for homosexuals, big banks and illegal Mexicans.

And that's his new base. I'm gone.

I will write in Ron Paul.. or not vote.

Anonymous said...

Base to Obama, Base to Obama.

The Republican primary is that away, President Dumbass.

Go run there if you want to be president. Calling yourself a Dem (like Pelosi and Reid) doesn't make you a Dem.

You don't have the votes to win re-election.

The Dem Party may figure this out next November after election day. That's the only time they spring into action.

The Dems had significant majorities for first two years and they still let the GOP set the agenda.

That's called lack of leadership starting at the top of the ticket.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Our enthusiam in not based on the debt deal alone, it was just the last straw for a lot of people. Obama has been far from the leader he campaingned to be from day one.

Anonymous said...

"How was he meant to get it through the Republican House? He tried his damnest."

A. He didn't try his 'damnest' as he didn't try at all.
B. You start by demanding up front that taxes be part of the solution and pledge-before God and everyone-that you will refuse and even veto if necessary any bill that doesn't include tax revenues.
C. You wait for the House Republican financiers (a/k/a, business) to call them up on the telephone screaming obscenities and demanding a favorable vote or else.

But of course if you start from Day One pursuing an approach of allowing your opponents to control the terms, themes, and subject of debate, you lost on Day One. A Reagan would have said that the Congress must produce a bill cutting long term debt, increasing tax revenues, and providing for jobs in the present, or "I'll lock the doors to Congress and cut off food and water until they stop bickering and pass a bill." That'd resonate with about 75% of voters since that's what they consistenly say they want, and, after pointing out the President can't really do those things, would have pundits chuckling about where Obama seemed to get his newly found fire in the belly.

Instead we get milktoast....and inane comments like 'He couldn't have done better.' Obama is trapped in a web of his own making, a web of compromise, subsequent and unavoidable underperformance, cycling around to more compromise. At this rate I expect a constitutional amendment by 2014 to exempt millionaires from taxation all together. ("I had to do it or they were going to defund my $1 million green energy project!")

Anonymous said...

He's the first democratic president with a Hippy Punching Czar. As a hippy myself, I'd prefer that he actually pretend occasionally that he is still a Democrat.

Anonymous said...

You will not be satisfied with any President until you fix the campaign finance problem! Why are voters so clueless?
Vote for opposition and you will get even worse. That unfortunately is the sour choice.

Anonymous said...

1) "Teaching lessons" to a party by withholding a vote *never* works (go ahead - name a time when it did, and cite specifically what Obama could have done, specifically, to get Republicans to enact good policy, specific tactics and proposals, please), 2) and if Romney were elected, he'd govern pretty much like GWB, he'd have to or he'd be in trouble with his base.

So there's no way he'd be "no different" than Obama.

I suspect that the two comments that referenced this are anti-Democratic trolls, honestly, they're so far off.

empi said...

To all of you who are so disenchanted with Obama, I understand your pain. I myself am still in his corner because I know he made hard choices under very horrible situation. He never had a democratic majority in both houses because apparently you have forgotten the filibusters the republicans used to defeat everything. But to those of you who have decided to cast a vote for a third party in protest and think Obama is worse than Romney, or that Romney would not be so bad, then please think again if for no other reason but this one. It is very likely that there will be two Supreme Court justices retiring in the next 4 years. One will be Ginsburg and the other Kennedy. This is huge and should not be taken lightly. I understand frustration but this is no time to be protesting your vote. Hold your nose if you have to. Don't make the rest of us suffer because you didn't get what you wanted.

empi said...

I just can't understand anyone threatening not to vote for their own party's candidate when the stakes are so high. I realize that some may be disenchanted with Obama but to threaten to stay home because he didn't meet your expectations is just ludicrous. You may want to cut off your nose to spite your face but you are cutting off the rest of ours and it is not a very prudent thing to do. It takes time to make changes. He deserves a second term to redeem himself.

Wake up folks - this is not a game. This is serious business.

Web Statistics