October 31, 2011

GLUG...GLUG...GLUG....:

Underwater: President Obama will struggle to win reelection if his approval rating doesn't rise. (Charlie Cook, October 27, 2011, National Journal)

The best barometer of how a president is going to fare is his approval rating, which starts taking on predictive value about a year out. As each month goes by, the rating becomes a better indicator of the eventual results. Presidents with approval numbers above 48 to 50 percent in the Gallup Poll win reelection. Those with approval ratings below that level usually lose. If voters don't approve of the job you are doing after four years in office, they usually don't vote for you. Of course, a candidate can win the popular vote and still lose the Electoral College. It happened to Samuel Tilden in 1876, Grover Cleveland in 1888, and Al Gore in 2000. But the popular votes and the Electoral College numbers usually come down on the same side.

In his 11th and most recent quarter in office (July 20-Oct. 19), President Obama averaged a 41 percent approval rating among registered voters, according to Gallup. His average for the month of September was the same. For the week of Oct. 17-23, the president's approval was 41 percent with a disapproval rating of 51 percent. It's worth noting that in the Oct. 17-23 aggregation of Gallup tracking, Obama's job-approval rating among independents was only 38 percent. This was a group he carried by 8 percentage points over John McCain in 2008, 52 percent to 44 percent. Among "pure" independents, those who don't lean toward either party when pushed, the president's approval rating was 32 percent.

Focusing on the big picture and that target of 48 to 50 percent among the total electorate, if Obama is to win in 2012, he needs to raise his approval rating at least 7 to 9 points. 

Posted by at October 31, 2011 7:01 AM
  

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