[Program Note 1: Obama Poll Watch is presented today, rather than on its normal Monday, Wednesday, and/or very-occasional Friday. This is mostly due to the column being extremely short this month, and due to the fact that it was pre-empted yesterday because we were all so consumed with the debt ceiling deal announced over the weekend. We apologize for the inconvenience, and for the shortness of the column. More on that in a moment.]
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[Program Note 3: As Congress leaves town this week for their month-long vacation (and what is regularly referred to as the "silly season" of politics in Washington, when political stories are few and far between), ChrisWeigant.com will be publishing columns on a reduced schedule of only Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. This will allow me time to work on a book proposal that has been on the back burner for far too long, and we apologize in advance for the month of reduced service. Which brings up a point -- in the space left on Tuesdays and Thursdays, would you prefer: (A.) nothing, just three columns a week; (B.) column re-runs of columns from, say, the past year; or (C.) what is called an "open thread" column, where you guys just hammer each other in the comments on whatever subject you feel like that day? Obviously, (A.) gets my vote because it is easiest, and (B.) would actually be the most time-consuming for me, but if we go with (C.) I may just toss out a question or an issue in a sentence or two for "debate amongst yourselves." Let me know your preference, if any, in the comments, and thank you in advance for your patience until Congress returns in early September. There may be a column this Thursday, but beginning next week it'll only be a M/W/F schedule until the second week in September.]
Debt ceiling drags Obama (and everyone else) down
As I warned, this is going to be a short one. There are, essentially, three reasons for this. One, the past month has been exhausting enough, politically. Two, it was a textbook example of a "one-issue month" where only one story dominated. Three, sometimes I am inherently lazy, and I guess you can call this one of those times. Sorry about that.
The easy answer to the question: "Who 'won' the debt ceiling debate?" is: nobody. The public sees everyone involved in a more negative light than when the whole manufactured crisis began. Hopefully, politicians will take note of this, but it is quite likely they will not, and this new standard of brinksmanship will become the norm, every time the debt ceiling debate arises. There's a comforting thought, after the past month, eh?
But while both Congress and the Republicans were scoring record lows in the polling, we're not concerned with them here, just with President Obama. And Obama had his own sort of "double dip" this month in the polls. He started off the month with his poll numbers still sliding back down after his "Bin Laden bounce" of a few months back, but his numbers were starting to stabilize. This held for about a week or so, but by mid-month the debt ceiling fracas was the main story on the news, and Obama's numbers slid downwards.
This puts Obama in the worst shape he's ever began a month, looking forward to August, but since the debt ceiling deal was struck he shows signs of bouncing back a bit. But let's look at the new chart for July, to begin.
[Click on graph to see larger-scale version.]
July began with more bad news on the unemployment front, as the official rate ticked upwards another tenth to 9.2 percent. From this inauspicious beginning, things descended into the mire of the debt ceiling debate. President Obama did actually show some spirit in this extended brawl, and for the first time in his presidency actually used the bully pulpit to rouse the populace. But, as I said, everyone got dragged down into this muck, in the end.
Obama ended the month with an average 46.2 percent approval, and 47.8 percent disapproval. This was significantly down from last month. While these numbers are far from the worst monthly averages Obama's ever posted, the daily numbers were even worse (more on that in a moment).
August is, as I mentioned, the silly season of politics. Nobody knows what inane story the mainstream media will waste entire weeks chasing, but you can bet your hat it'll be a silly one. Augusts haven't been kind to Obama, however, at least when it comes to public opinion. His worst-ever monthly drop in numbers came in August of 2009, and the August after that he hit his lowest monthly approval rating of his presidency. Perhaps he'll be able to buck the trend this year, though.
Obama's monthly average wasn't the worst of his presidency -- he has returned to almost exactly the point he was at before his "Bin Laden bounce." But his daily numbers are even worse, which means he's going to have some headwinds heading into August. Obama came very close to hitting the lowest daily approval he's ever charted (44.2 percent, on 10/17/10), two days before the end of July, when he hit a dismal 44.6 percent average daily approval. His disapproval numbers weren't quite as bad, hitting a high of "only" 50.3 percent for the month -- almost a full point from his worst daily average ever (51.2 percent, on 9/26/10). Still, that's got to be worrisome for the folks who work at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
The first week of the month wasn't too bad for Obama, as he continued on the plateau he'd ended June on, for both approval and disapproval. But he hit the crossover point where his approval was "underwater" (less than his disapproval) immediately afterwards. He spent the second week bouncing back and forth from being even, being above water, and being underwater, but then for the rest of the month the public's mood turned increasingly sour. He ended the month with among the worst numbers he's ever posted at month-end -- meaning he'll start out August even deeper in the hole than the chart shows above.
But that's not to say bad numbers in August will be a foregone conclusion for him. Like the killing of Osama Bin Laden, the debt ceiling debate concluded at the absolute beginning of a monthly period. So he won't have any drag left over from the "will there be a deal?" fingernail-biting which has occupied the airwaves for two solid weeks now. Obama's team is going to try as hard as possible to "pivot" to the jobs crisis at this point, but they also tried to do that after the budget deal worked out earlier this year, to no noticeable effect. August is looking like an uphill climb for Obama, no matter how you slice it.
[Obama Poll Watch Data:]
Sources And Methodology
ObamaPollWatch.com is an admittedly amateur effort, but we do try to stay professional when it comes to revealing our sources and methodology. All our source data comes from RealClearPolitics.com; specifically from their daily presidential approval ratings "poll of polls" graphic page. We take their daily numbers, log them, and then average each month's data into a single number -- which is then shown on our monthly charts here (a "poll of polls of polls," if you will...). You can read a much more detailed explanation of our source data and methodology on our "About Obama Poll Watch" page, if you're interested.
Questions or comments? Use the Email Chris page to drop me a private note.
[June 11], [May 11], [Apr 11], [Mar 11], [Feb 11], [Jan 11], [Dec 10], [Nov 10], [Oct 10], [Sep 10], [Aug 10], [Jul 10], [Jun 10], [May 10], [Apr 10], [Mar 10], [Feb 10], [Jan 10], [Dec 09], [Nov 09], [Oct 09], [Sep 09], [Aug 09], [Jul 09], [Jun 09], [May 09], [Apr 09], [Mar 09]
Obama's All-Time Statistics
Highest Monthly Approval -- 2/09 -- 63.4%
Lowest Monthly Approval -- 8/10 -- 45.3%
Highest Monthly Disapproval -- 9/10 -- 49.7%
Lowest Monthly Disapproval -- 1/09 -- 19.6%
Highest Daily Approval -- 2/15/09 -- 65.5%
Lowest Daily Approval -- 10/17/10 -- 44.2%
Highest Daily Disapproval -- 9/26/10 -- 51.2%
Lowest Daily Disapproval -- 1/29/09 -- 19.3%
Obama's Raw Monthly Data
[All-time high in bold, all-time low underlined.]
Month -- (Approval / Disapproval / Undecided)
07/11 -- 46.2 / 47.8 / 6.0
06/11 -- 48.5 / 46.0 / 5.5
05/11 -- 51.4 / 43.1 / 5.5
04/11 -- 46.4 / 48.2 / 5.4
03/11 -- 48.1 / 46.4 / 5.5
02/11 -- 49.4 / 44.5 / 6.1
01/11 -- 48.5 / 45.7 / 5.8
12/10 -- 45.5 / 48.1 / 6.4
11/10 -- 45.5 / 49.0 / 5.5
10/10 -- 45.5 / 49.1 / 5.4
09/10 -- 45.7 / 49.7 / 4.6
08/10 -- 45.3 / 49.5 / 5.2
07/10 -- 46.6 / 47.4 / 6.0
06/10 -- 47.6 / 46.7 / 5.7
05/10 -- 48.1 / 45.5 / 6.4
04/10 -- 47.8 / 46.5 / 5.7
03/10 -- 48.1 / 46.4 / 5.5
02/10 -- 47.9 / 46.1 / 6.0
01/10 -- 49.2 / 45.3 / 5.5
12/09 -- 49.4 / 44.9 / 5.7
11/09 -- 51.1 / 43.5 / 5.4
10/09 -- 52.2 / 41.9 / 5.9
09/09 -- 52.7 / 42.0 / 5.3
08/09 -- 52.8 / 40.8 / 6.4
07/09 -- 56.4 / 38.1 / 5.5
06/09 -- 59.8 / 33.6 / 6.6
05/09 -- 61.4 / 31.6 / 7.0
04/09 -- 61.0 / 30.8 / 8.2
03/09 -- 60.9 / 29.9 / 9.2
02/09 -- 63.4 / 24.4 / 12.2
01/09 -- 63.1 / 19.6 / 17.3
-- Chris Weigant
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