Every day, thousands more Americans are giving up on Barack Obama’s presidency. We see this anecdotally as well as in poll data. This, I think, is the real reason why Obama’s Martha’s Vineyard vacation is so out of tune. It is not just that the economy is lousy; it is the fact that millions of Americans are looking askance at the president, weighing whether they should continue supporting his administration, or throw in the towel. For many, Obama’s disengagement will help answer the question.
Those who put their money where their mouths are have recognized Obama’s receding fortunes: InTrade now prices the likelihood of Obama’s re-election at less than 50/50.
Those traders are following the poll data, including Scott Rasmussen’s Approval Index. Rasmussen’s polling is valuable because it–alone, to my knowledge–samples likely voters at all times, not just in the last stages of the campaign season. Obama’s showing in the Approval Index is not just dismal but chronically so. Obama has been stuck at -20 to -22 for some time now:
For purposes of comparison, George W. Bush’s Approval Index during the last month of his second term was -30. The difference between that figure and Obama’s current showing is made up entirely, or nearly so, by the strong support that Obama continues to receive from African-Americans, at least when they talk to pollsters.
Could Obama turn things around? I don’t think so, as he has no intention of changing the policies that have kept the United States mired in awful economic times. What may happen, though, is that the Republicans could nominate a candidate who is considered sufficiently eccentric, by a sufficient number of voters, that Obama and his maladroit administration come to be viewed as the devil we know. Avoiding that outcome should be the goal of all Republicans as we enter the primary season.