Commentary Magazine


What Do They Like?

The latest Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll reflects a now-familiar phenomenon: the public still approves of the president’s performance but doesn’t much like the things he is doing.

We learn:

By 58 percent to 38 percent voters across the country say they disapprove of the government takeover and majority ownership stake in General Motors. Majorities of Republicans (79 percent) and independents (59 percent) think it was a bad move, as well as a sizable minority of Democrats (39 percent).

The public is divided on whether the economy is improving (40% say things are getting better, 42% say worse). And on unions:

Labor unions have been front and center in the government’s rescue of GM — and Chrysler as well. The largest number of Americans — 43 percent — think labor unions have too much influence on the Obama administration, 29 percent say the right amount and 12 percent too little influence.

Oh, and Dick Cheney gets a 34% popularity rating while Nancy Pelosi scores a George W. Bush-like 29%.

On whether all the billions in spending are helping matters: 46% say yes, 39% say no. When it comes to government and business, 49% say business is better equipped to run troubled firms and financial institutions and 27% say government.

So one has to ask: why is it that people approve of the job the president is doing? After all he is the one who took over GM and Chrysler. He has given unprecedented influence to labor unions. And he’s shoving private business out of the way to manage large sectors of the economy. And other polls show the president’s position on issues like Guantanamo is overwhelmingly unpopular.  There is a disconnect somewhere.

Now perhaps voters simply like him personally and conflate “job approval” with “personal approval.” Or perhaps they simply don’t want to give up hope for a successful presidency. But at some point voters may realize that the president is the one directing policies they don’t like. Then what?