Commentary Magazine


Like a Stone

Something interesting is going on. Jennifer this morning reported that Obama had reached a new low in the Rasmussen Daily Tracking Poll yesterday, at -16. The latest results, released a couple of hours ago, show the president at -19 a mere 24 hours later.

Not surprisingly, Obama’s popularity began declining right after Inauguration Day, as the messy reality of actually governing replaced the warm glow of rhetoric. He was at +28 on January 21st but down to +10 a month later. He slipped into negative territory in June, when he was at -2 on June 21st. By November 21st, he was at -13.

But the last week was been brutal: -11 last Monday, -10 on Tuesday, -11 on Wednesday, -12 on Thursday and Friday, -16 on Saturday, -19 today.

Perhaps even worse for Obama has been the sharp decline in the number of those who strongly approve. That number dropped by 4 percentage points this week, from 27 percent to 23 percent, while the strongly disapproving increased an equal amount.

And the decline is across the board:

Just 41% of Democrats Strongly Approve while 69% of Republicans Strongly Disapprove. Among voters not affiliated with either major party, 21% Strongly Approve and 49% Strongly Disapprove.

Polls, like markets, fluctuate on a daily basis. One day’s or even one week’s change doesn’t amount to much. But the chart below sure looks like a political bear market to me. And in politics, that translates into a loss of power to persuade other politicians to go along. With public approval of the Senate Health Care bill at an all-time low (-32 in the latest CNN poll), it seems as though it will be increasingly difficult for the president to persuade all 60 Democrats and Independents in the Senate to walk that particular plank.

My guess is that if just one of the needed 60 senators were to announce that he or she would not vote for cloture this month, regardless of what Harry Reid comes up with in the next few days, (“I’m in favor of health-care reform, but we need to consider this more carefully” — translation: I like my job and want to keep it) others would quickly follow. That would push it into 2010 and, almost surely, into a richly deserved political oblivion.