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Not a Good Way to Win an Election

According to the Rasmussen Reports, only 19 percent of the nation’s voters strongly approve of Barack Obama’s performance as president, while 39 percent strongly disapprove. The data reflect his lowest level of strong approval yet.

Rasmussen finds that there has been a sharp decline in enthusiasm among liberal voters. Just 37 percent of liberals now approve strongly of the president’s performance—down from 63 percent a year ago, 57 percent at the beginning of 2011, and 52 percent a week ago.

The decline can be explained, I think, by last week’s budget agreement, which infuriated many on the left. But the disappointments have been piling up for them: the U.S. military involvement in Libya, the surge in Afghanistan, the extension of the Bush-era tax cuts, the failure to shut down Guantanamo Bay and try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in front of a military tribunal, etc.

The left’s unhappiness with Obama was given voice yesterday by the New York Times’s Paul Krugman, who wrote, “What have they done with President Obama? What happened to the inspirational figure his supporters thought they elected? Who is this bland, timid guy who doesn’t seem to stand for anything in particular?”

E. J. Dionne Jr. of the Washington Post weighed in as well, saying

For Obama, it is not good enough to cast himself as the school principal scolding competing congressional gangs. He needs the courage to defend the government he leads. He needs to declare that he will no longer bargain with those who use threats to shut down the government or force it to default on its debt as tools of intimidation. We’re all a bit weary of Obama telling everyone to be grown-ups, but this would be the grown-up thing to do.

If he hopes to be reelected the president needs to win back independent voters, who fled him and his party in huge numbers in 2010. Almost everything the White House does between now and 2012 will have that object in mind. The worst-case scenario for Obama is that he fails to win back independents while at the same time he deflates his base. It would be hard to imagine a more perilous political situation for him.

Right now the president seems to be annoying liberals more than he’s inspiring independents. That’s not a good way for a Democrat to win an election.



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