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Category

 Political

Published

 December, 2009

Synopsis

 Republicans Inflate the Importance of Obama's Poll Numbers

Republicanís Math Doesnít Add Up

Iím told these are supposed to be gloomy days for President Obama.

Thatís if he believes those math deficient rightwingers who are taking pleasure in announcing the rather steady drop in his job approval ratings.

Except for one thing. Barack Obamaís poll numbers (they dropped below 50% in a daily Gallup Poll in November. Theyíve since dropped as low as 47%, before they slightly rebounded) arenít as bad as Ronald Reaganís were at the same time during his presidency.

Oh, Obamaís job approval numbers have dropped. But so did three other presidents whose job approval ratings actually dropped below 50% faster than his.

Gerald Fordís dipped below 50% during his third month in office. It only took four months for Bill Clintonís to fall below 50%. Ronald Reagan, the president most admired by conservatives, saw his job approval numbers drop below 50% quicker (by a few days) than Obamaís did.

Three of those presidents, including Obama, had one thing you can point to that would account for drops in their job approval figures. They inherited, especially Obama, economic downturns.

Reagan followed Carter. Clinton followed George H.W. Bush. Obama, well heís stuck with George W. Bushís mess.

In December of 1981, Reaganís job approval ratings stood at 49% for the month. At the beginning of 1983 his Gallup Poll job approval had fallen to near George W. Bush levels Ė 35%.

Reagan spent his first years in office trying to convince the American public he wasnít Jimmy Carter.

But now, Republicans have so little to cheer about, theyíre throwing parties because of Obamaís poll numbers. Well hold the champagne. The poll numbers, as it turns out, really donít prove much of anything.

The ones most Americans still go by were recorded on November 4th, 2008. Thatís when MOST AMERICANS threw parties.

George W. Bush did have some mighty impressive poll numbers at the end of his first year in office. Right after 9/11 he set a Gallup Poll job approval record Ė at 90%. The country was united behind him.

But whatís been largely overlooked is that his job approval ratings were at 51% the week before 9/11, and that despite following a president who left the economy in good shape.
Funny, but I donít remember any Democrats throwing any parties when they heard about those numbers.

Itís also worth noting that while Bush earned (and I use that word loosely) his highest job approval numbers in late September of 2001, during his final 21 months in office his job approval never got out of the 30ís.

Rightwingers seem to have forgotten that.

They apparently havenít read much history either. Every post-WWII president Ė except John F. Kennedy Ė has had their job approval numbers slide below 50% at some time during their presidencies.

With a new escalation in the war in Afghanistan and unemployment numbers still not showing any lasting improvement, we can all expect the next cheers from the right, as soon as Obamaís numbers plummet even further.

Thatís why itís so critical for Republican members of Congress, where they have ratings right down there with leprosy, to stand in the way of anything the president, or congressional Democrats try to achieve.

If they can have a hand in upending healthcare reform, Republicans may throw a parade.
If they can help prevent unemployed workers from getting their much needed extended benefits Ė theyíll blame the Democrats Ė and then theyíll declare it a national holiday.

Itís the same game that sent them into the minority in the first place. Itís easy not standing up for anything, when all the while, you complain about everything your opposition tries to do.

Next fall, when Democrats will be hard pressed to hold onto their healthy majority in the U.S. House, Republicans will have to figure out how to speak seriously about issues that affect the majority of the Americaís voters.

For the moment, all they appear to be doing is pounding their chests about how the country has suffered in 11 months, while ignoring how it suffered for the previous eight years.

Edward A. Owens is a three time Emmy Award winner and 20 year veteran of television news. E-mail him at freedoms@bellatlantic.net