As Ezra Klein sounds the alarm on Obamacare, his Washington Post colleague Chris Cillizza sounds it on the political front. He shows that President Obama’s second-term approval rating is essentially tracking that of George W. Bush.
Both stood at just over 50 percent following their reelection. Both declined pretty steadily during that first year to just under 40 percent by November.
Bush’s number bounced back to the low to mid 40s early in the second year of his second term, but then dropped to as low as 35 percent by mid-year. At the time of the off-year congressional elections, it stood at 37 percent.
We don’t know what Obama’s numbers will look like next year. But with Obamacare spiraling into more and more difficulty, his short-term polling prospects don’t like good.
And know that Obama is on a completely different polling track than Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. These two could boast of approval ratings of around 60 percent when they were reelected. Neither dipped below 50 percent prior to the off-year congressional elections two years later. When these elections rolled around, Reagan was at 63 percent and Clinton at 66 percent.
According to Cillizza, many Democrats say they aren’t worried about Obama’s numbers, since he will never run for president again. I know the feeling. In my less lucid moments, I used to tell myself the same thing about Bush.
It’s a fallacy, of course. As Cillizza says:
It’s impossible to separate out how a president is doing in the eyes of the public from how voters will judge his party — even, and maybe especially, in an election in which his name is not actually on the ballot. The relatively minor losses incurred by Ronald Reagan in 1986 and Bill Clinton’s history-making gains in 1998 came as both men were remarkably well-liked by the general electorate. In 2006, a deeply unpopular George W. Bush watched his party lose 30 seats and control of the House.
The similarities between Bush’s trend line and Obama’s should be a major concern for Democrats hoping to hold the Senate and retake the House next year.
Yes they should be. And judging by the behavior of congressional Dems, they are.