September 12, 2010

Obama underwater, Democrats panic, Alinsky appears

Rasmussen reports has President Obama at 42% total approval today among likely voters while,46% strongly disapprove. In the past I've said that the President's true tipping point would be when those who strongly disapprove outnumber voters who strongly approve plus those who somewhat approve.  In the Rasmussen polling he's reached that point a couple of times in the past but this time it's been sustained for a few days now.  Can the President recover? Can Democrats? And why are they reverting to Alinsky tactics in order to do damage control?

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Obama tipping?

Has he really reached the tipping point of no political recovery? That's hard to say because events can always change perception and events include the unexpected. Things can change either way. But when you you look at the overall graph and look at the President Obama total approval trend, it sure looks unidirectional: Downward. I've added a trend line in the second version graph.

The timing for the Congressional Democrats could not be worse. The coattails they road in 2008 to Congress and the Senate are the same coattails that could yank them back out of office. That's why you are seeing so many elected Democrats distancing themselves from the President. Why tie yourself to a President whose approval is truly underwater? It makes more sense to point out why you are not him. Keep in mind he's not just underwater, he's really underwater. A Presidential approval number over 40% doesn't sound terrible. President Bush would have loved to exit office with those numbers compared to what he did leave with. But when you look deeper, the Rasmussen numbers reveal more.

(1) Rasmussen polls are likely voters. All adults or registered voters have less meaning when it comes to politics than likely voters. Likely voters are the ones that will matter when the election happens.

(2) The measure Rasmussen is using is not just overall approval/disapproval which he pegs at 42%/57%, but it is also measuring intensity. Strongly approve versus strongly disapprove (27% versus 46%) indicates that likely voters are highly inclined to disapprove of the President.

Democrats in trouble

When you consider that the Democrats have had a super-majority in the Senate and a commanding majority in Congress, and that Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and President Obama were obviously working on health care, cap and trade and the stimulus bills closely together, decoupling Congressional Democrats from Obama is thankfully, going to be a tough sell this November.  That downward bending approval curve (unlike the phony downward bending cost curve President Obama promised) is real.  It would seem that if  Congressional Democrats are indeed tied to it, then the Republican wave becomes more and more tangible as the election draws near. That's why we are seeing Democrats panic. They need to break away from that evolving outcome.  In order to do so they have tried to do everything from blaming Bush, running from Obama and their own voting record and trying to point out that Republicans are bad people.

The problem with pointing out the faults of others is that it isn't leadership. It's okay in campaigning but when you are leading the country, you are supposed to be pointing out what great things you have accomplished.  That is unless you are ashamed of them, or afraid of how they make you look.  In that case, pointing out the other guys 'suck' is no strategy because it turns out you suck more.  There's no way out of this quandary in the short term for Democrats.  They can only hope for some of those unexpected external events to shift the tide.  

But hope it turns out, isn't really a strategy - Alinsky tactics

So now they are turning to the Alinsky tactic of trying to demonize John Boehner and his tan. His tan! Who knew the smell of desperation smelled like turkey? I'm talking about the tactic, not the tan.

The approach they are taking goes back to two Alinsky rules. Rule 5: Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon. It’s hard to counterattack ridicule, and it infuriates the opposition, which then reacts to your advantage.  Rule 12: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, polarize it. Ignore attempts to shift or spread the blame.

If they can get him to say something stupid, maybe they can turn the tide just enough to prevent a major blowout. It also targets Boehner and attempts to polarize him as an unlikable figure.  And in some way, perhaps it creates this nefarious, not overly well known villain from the shadows who takes every evil position on every issue.  It might distract voters enough from an unemployment rate of 9.6% that a trillion plus dollars in spending couldn't fix. Then again it might not.

It's not gonna work.  Guess what progressives, we're on to you.  You are going to have to throw out that Alinksy playbook because it's going to be brought out into the open and shown for what it is, EVERY TIME you try to use it.  This fall, you'll see the beginning of a re-engagement of Americans in their government from top to bottom.  Things are going to change, and you are not going to like it.  But you can thank your hero President Obama for it.  He brought all of this progressive agenda to people's awareness by trying to accelerate it to a a fever pitch.  He promised change, but it will be common sense Americans who will bring it.

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