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Why are Obama's poll numbers so high?

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Michael Collins       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   7 comments, In Series: Obama Administration

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A new poll found that President Obama's job approval rating dropped to 42%, and his disapproval rating hit 55%, an all time high.  The popular question is how did his approval rating get this low.?

That's the wrong question, in my opinion.  Here's the more salient question.  Why has the president's job approval rating stayed so high?

In early September, the president got all worked up over the use of chemical weapons, allegedly by arch nemesis Bashar al-Assad of Syria.  Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry reached peak invective at the Syrian government just before either or both the House and Senate stood ready to vote down the request to attack the beleaguered nation.   Russian President Vladimir Putin rescued the administration from an epic legislative defeat through the successful substitution of diplomacy for war.

The administration followed that failure with one closer to home, the botched rollout of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) - Obamacare health insurance exchanges.  The Canadian company in charge of the web site apparently never heard of Beta testing and quality assurance.  The person designated to fix the initial problems said the site would be working by the end of November.  Maybe, maybe not. 

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In the space of four weeks, the president had two profound failures with the whole world watching especially the American public.  The results could have landed the president in the latter day George W. Bush range, around a 33% approval.  But, Obama's numbers are not nearly as bad as events warranted.

Does the president have some reservoir of personal popularity separate from his job approval rating?  No.  The latest personal approval rating for Obama was 46% favorable to 52% unfavorable.  That's close to the job approval ratio.

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The open secret of the president's inflated polling numbers

Let's assume that 42% is a fairly decent approval number based on the president's dismal performance.

What props him up?

The answer is Congress in general and the congressional Republicans, in particular.  The Democrats have a 29% approval and 65% disapproval rating as of a week ago.  The Republicans are at 21% approval and 73% disapproval for the same time period.   When asked about Congress, as a whole, public approval dropped below 10% in four of the last five polls since mid October with disapproval above 85% in each of those polls.

The public sees two faces of Congress.  The Republican extremists act as though they've never been wrong about anything ever.  They shout out their opinions filled with illogic, fabrications, and personal attacks on those who disagree.  The other face is the passive presentation by all but a very few Democrats.   They just sit there and take it.   While each party is in the 20% to 30% range in job approval, Congress as a whole is rated much lower, around 9%.  The public is clearly disgusted with the legislative branch.  Obama may be a failure but he doesn't come close to Congress, in the eyes of the people.

This is the government we are stuck with at this most critical period in our history and that of the world.

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