April 5, 2010

Obama Approval Index - Why It's Not Good News

Conservatives looking for momentum in the fight to unseat Democrats in November, might be facing some trouble.  Rasmussen's daily Presidential index is out and the graphs don't look good.  Previous bounces for the President have looked quite ephemeral.  The State of the Union speech bounce lasted less time than it takes to finish a Starbucks Venti. But this bounce looks like it might have a bit more staying power. It's not time to panic just yet, but it might be time for some concern.

Take a look at at the Strong Approval numbers below from Rasmussen Reports.  Not only did it get a bounce, it is tracking upwards.

A lot of people were expecting a bump.  No doubt the disaffected far left of Obama's base are coming back into the Obama fold.  They may be upset that Guantanamo is still open and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are still being waged.  They might be displeased by the fact that this bill is not single payer.  But they are coming back.  Why?  The passage of Obamacare represents two, perhaps three things to the progressive left.

(1) It represents a victory.  A victory is a victory and some of that previous disaffection quite likely represented a dispirited core, who believed that for all of Obama's talk of Hope and Change during the campaign, even with dual legislative majorities, he couldn't change things.  To them, this proves he can.

(2) It may not be single payer, but it's a step towards it.  While progressive liberals may have wanted everything, all at once, they probably realize that this is a transformative piece of legislation.  It changes the playing field by tilting the whole field to the left.  That means that, the next step - single payer - is easier than the last step because in order to get across the goal line, the left can march downhill. Or so they believe.

In the minds of the left, passage of this bill into law means, well, hope.  Hence the rally in approval.  They must at this point be envisioning this strong approval to rise, followed by overall approval.  In an ideal liberal world, the graph below will not only follow suit, but do so by November.
Whether that happens or not is actually of little consequence other than temporal. The strong approval numbers are elevating, partly in the belief that further elevation of overall approval will follow suit.  If that fails to transpire, then the strong approval numbers will turn around. If President Obama can have minimized damage in 2010 and the socialization and internalization of the idea of the new health care happens before 2012, they probably figure they've got it made.  The recession will likely be long gone by 2012 (barring more government takeovers and taxation - not a given) and people will have come to accept the new health care world.  That's the thinking.  Since the costs haven't really kicked in by 2012, you can expect that an Obama re-election will guarantee that they will ratchet up the single payer fight.  They will try to do it during the President's second term.

I mentioned a third reason.  I hesitate to include it because even among Democrats, this likely represents a non-core group.  I'm not saying it's a small group, but certainly not a plurality by any stretch.  But those who fall into this category, it certainly explains their re-energized hope.

(3) Starving the beast. A lot of people like the idea of starving government into a smaller size. The notion of starving the government is a conservative-based idea propounded by the likes of Grover Norquist. But if you think about it, the radical left can leverage this position to their own ends.  If the government collapses and needs to be rebuilt from ground zero, then there's reason for hope on the far left that it can be rebuilt in a far more socialist mode than the current system. I will write more on this in the future, but suffice it to say that starving the beast can have two possible outcomes - rebuilding American government as a lean, smaller government OR rebuilding it as a monolithic presence in the economy and in people's lives. Regardless of the respective odds of either outcome, unless the odds of the latter are near zero, it's a risky prospect and should be regarded as the last choice for conservatives.  There are better ways to scale back government than to risk a socialist state in the process.

There is no reason this bump in Obama approval should have any more staying power than previous bumps or translate into broader approval rather than depth.  Depth of approval means energized liberals turning up in November to vote. Broader appeal (overall approval) mean more likelihood that they will win seats.  Both types of approval are bad news for conservatives and for Republicans.

The Lessons for Republicans

There are two lessons to be learned from this. Firstly, TODAY is important.  This point in American history represents a crossroads.  The country has come alive with everyday people standing up and demonstrating at town halls ant Tea Parties.  The agitators are not the outspoken radicals of yesteryear, but rather everyday people.  This is not a new phenomenon, but rather a long dormant one returned to life. The policies of the far left have had their day, no, their century.  They have failed and the failure is being accelerated.

The first lesson is that the time is now.  All the momentum of the last year is for nothing if the right allows those approval numbers to recover.  It doesn't matter if you win the first quarter but end up down at half time or the end of the game.  Half time is November.  Conservatives need to get out there and continue to stir the pot.  We have got to keep (or get) Republicans conservative.  More importantly we need to keep the Democrats' feet to the fire. President Obama's just as much as the local representatives. If those numbers continue to climb, November's gains will be minimized and the momentum of the last year, lost, or worse, vanquished.

Which leads to the second lesson.  How?  It should be obvious. There are two demons in the machine right now - (i) health care and it's implications for the economic future of the country and (ii) jobs.  Both of those issues have to be pounded into the media so that they have to talk about them for the next 6 months.  don't let the dialog change course.  If they try to talk about the recovery that is underway, borrow from Pelosi's harping on Bush - this recovery actually IS a jobless recovery, unlike President Bush's recovery.  If the media won't pick up on the story, protest them too.  For example, a massive protest against CNN bias will make the news on competing news media because it helps them.  whatever the tactics, the strategy has to be to amp up the protests.  not the anger - just the message.  The message is jobs are gone, you've had 2 years to fix it and nothing has been done.  The message is that Obamacare not only displays misplaced priorities versus jobs, but it was done so poorly, so secretively, that it is going to make things far worse going forward. And as always, bring proof.

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