I heard it first this morning on Fox and Friends–President Obama’s approval rating is up five points since November, and he is now slightly in the black, at 49-47. Drudge has been highlighting the same poll today, with a “+5″ headline.
Of course, a bounce in a single poll doesn’t mean much. But it fits with what I have been seeing, less dramatically, in Scott Rasmussen’s likely voter polling. Obama’a Approval Rating is still dismal at -18, but it has drifted up a little from the bottom, and his overall approval/disapproval numbers have tightened a bit at 47/51. Not only that, in today’s race against a generic Republican, Obama, who has trailed this matchup for some months, suddenly leads by one, 45/44.
So I conclude that Obama likely is enjoying a modest improvement in his standing with the voters. Why would this be? Has he seized the high ground in the current budget battle with the Republican House? Possibly, but similar deadlocks in the past haven’t benefited Obama noticeably. And his position in that conflict makes no sense: Obama says he wants to extend the Social Security tax holiday; fine, but the Republicans have voted to extend it for a year; the Democrats, only two months. So it doesn’t seem that he has grounds for complaint.
I suspect that Obama’s comeback, such as it is, has to do with the Republican presidential campaign. The GOP candidates should be showing a united front, directing their fire at Obama and competing to be the most effective anti-Obama candidate in the fall. That would be expected to lower Obama’s standing with the voters; it was what many predicted for the primary season. Instead, the GOP candidates have turned their guns on each other. Largely giving the Obama administration a pass, they have garnered headline after headline by pointing out one another’s weaknesses as candidates. The conflict has often gotten shrill and personal, and as a result the GOP brand is being damaged. Some uncommitted voters are starting to think Obama doesn’t look too bad compared with the other guys.
So the Republican campaigns need to wise up and start training their fire on the Democrats rather than each other. It is probably too late to undo the damage that has been done by the last two months of backbiting and low comedy, but a sustained fire against the Obama administration during the coming months may help return Obama’s standing with the voters to the low level where it belongs.