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Obama Poll Watch -- November, 2011

[ Posted Monday, December 5th, 2011 – 15:34 PST ]

Good News, Bad News

This month Obama poll watchers got some good news, and some bad news. This was capped off, at the end of the month, by the Washington punditocracy making an incredibly stupid comparison between polling for Barack Obama and Jimmy Carter -- which we will address at the end of the column (complete with a "guess the president" graph quiz, for your amusement).

But we've got a lot to cover, so let's just jump right in with Obama's chart for November, 2011.

Obama Approval -- November 2011

[Click on graph to see larger-scale version.]

November, 2011

November saw the Republican presidential nomination rollercoaster ride continue, with Herman Cain flaming out and Newt Gingrich rising from his own ashes. The Occupy Wall Street protests clashed with the reality of the cops, and has since mostly fizzled out. However, what I like to call the "99 Percent" movement has not -- because the core ideas of the occupiers have been gaining traction in both the media and political environments, and the idea that maybe doing something about income equality is now running about par with deficit-cutting obsession (which had been the prevailing theme ever since the Tea Partiers made their mark). Right before Thanksgiving, however, the congressional "supercommittee" threw in the towel and announced it couldn't possibly come to any agreement which either one single Democrat or one single Republican would cross the aisle to support. To nobody's surprise, I might add.

President Obama entered November on an upswing, but the failure of the supercommittee was a reminder to the public just how broken Washington truly is, which dragged him back down towards the end of the month.

Obama improved his standings in the polls in November, both by increasing his average monthly approval number to 44.4 percent and by bringing his average monthly disapproval down to 50.2 percent. In both cases, this represented a 1.0 point change over his October numbers (which were almost perfectly flat). While Obama's still got a long ways to go, this is the first positive bump in the polls he's seen since the death of Osama Bin Laden. That's the good news. The bad news is that he ended the month on a downward swing. Which leads us right to...

 

Overall Trends

The overall trend for Obama was the bad news, because the supercommittee failure dragged him down at the end of the month. But, overall, mostly the news was good for Obama in November. Simultaneously rising and falling by one percent may not sound like a lot, but it was Obama's third-best ever rise in approval, and his fourth-best month in falling disapproval (to put these numbers in some sort of context).

The other good news for Obama was that this was the first month in quite a few where he didn't post any "all-time" negative numbers. Last month, by comparison, Obama posted an all-time high for average monthly disapproval, and all-time lows for both average monthly approval and average daily approval. This month, Obama posted a daily approval high of 45.8 percent -- which he hasn't seen since July. His highest daily disapproval in November was almost two points below his all-time daily record. The problem, as noted, was that the last day of the month Obama posted the lowest daily approval of the whole month (at 43.2 percent), and the highest daily disapproval (51.4 percent).

So while overall the month was indeed a positive one for Obama, there is still bad news contained within his numbers. Struggling to get above 45 percent approval is not (to be blunt) where a president wants to be, heading into a re-election battle. And if Obama's numbers don't improve soon in December, the rise he just posted in November could completely disappear.

Obama does have some good news to enter the month with, however, so turning his numbers back to positive may indeed be possible. The unexpected good news on unemployment will help him, and all month long the media will be occasionally reporting on the troops "coming home for the holidays" as our final pullout from Iraq winds down. Both of these may give Obama a boost in December. Who knows, maybe Santa will leave some better approval ratings under the White House Christmas tree?

 

Obama versus Carter (and three others)

For a week, I've been hearing from inside-the-Beltway pundits (including some who really should know better) that "Obama's numbers are worse right now than Carter's were at the same point in his presidency."

Since I only post monthly averages, my numbers haven't quite caught up to this talking point, but you can see what they're talking about on my comparison chart:

Obama versus Carter -- November 2011

[Click on graph to see larger-scale version.]

However, this is still a monumentally stupid comparison to make. I'm sorry, but it just is.

During November, thirty-two years ago, Iran exploded. During their revolution they took Americans hostage. This was, as you can imagine, a rather large event in the American consciousness. It had an outsized effect on Carter's polling, as a direct result (pollsters call this the "rally 'round the president" effect).

Carter's bump in the polls didn't last very long, however, as you can see in that chart. He got four very good months out of it, and then his polling fell back to almost exactly where it had been before the crisis began. To put it another way, in the six months previous to the bump, Carter averaged only a 32.1 percent approval rating (with a low of 28.5 percent in July of 1979). After the bump, Carter averaged 35.9 percent for the next six months.

Obama isn't even close to that territory.

Which is what makes the comparison so silly, on the face of it. It's like comparing a president's approval rating to George W. Bush's right after 9/11 happened, to put it another way -- it really is an invalid comparison to even make.

But because the talking point gained such wide circulation, I thought I'd pull out three other past presidents and compare their overall charts to Obama's at this point, to show where more intelligent comparisons could be made. All of these presidents were prior to Obama, but after Truman (polling data gets sketchy, pre-Eisenhower). See if you can guess whose numbers these are (answers at the end):

Obama quiz 1 -- November 2011

[Click on graph to see larger-scale version.]

The first one I chose has probably the closest numbers to Obama, if you prefer just a one-month "snapshot." As you can see, both the approval and disapproval are within three percentage points of where Obama now is. As you can also see, this president had a rocky rest of this term, swinging wildly up and down.

Obama quiz 2 -- November 2011

[Click on graph to see larger-scale version.]

Up until the last few months, this second president was tracking very close to Obama's trajectory, especially in approval rating. Since about Year Two, this president was in pretty much the same range as Obama. This president started climbing right about now, and his numbers headed upward for the remainder of his term.

Obama quiz 3 -- November 2011

[Click on graph to see larger-scale version.]

The third president also closely tracks Obama, although closer on disapproval than on approval. The past three or four months, the lines start to diverge, but before that disapproval tracked extremely closely with Obama's line. This president also seemed to be turning things around right about now, and his numbers headed upward for the rest of his term.

Answers: The first graph (under the Carter graph, above) was Lyndon Baines Johnson's "second term." Some might argue that this is an apples/oranges comparison, but since his "first term" was less than a year long (after Kennedy's assassination), and since he was indeed running for re-election, I considered it valid. Eventually, L.B.J. famously pulled out of the primary race because he thought he likely couldn't win re-election.

The second graph is none other than Bill Clinton's first term. The third graph is Ronald Reagan's first term. The question for Obama is whether he can engineer a similar rise in polling that both Clinton and Reagan rode back into the Oval Office.

 

[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.

 

Column Archives

[Oct 11], [Sep 11], [Aug 11], [Jul 11], [Jun 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

Monthly
Highest Monthly Approval -- 2/09 -- 63.4%
Lowest Monthly Approval -- 10/11 -- 43.4%

Highest Monthly Disapproval -- 9/11, 10/11 -- 51.2%
Lowest Monthly Disapproval -- 1/09 -- 19.6%

Daily
Highest Daily Approval -- 2/15/09 -- 65.5%
Lowest Daily Approval -- 10/9/11 -- 42.0%

Highest Daily Disapproval -- 8/30/11 -- 53.2%
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)
11/11 -- 44.4 / 50.2 / 5.4
10/11 -- 43.4 / 51.2 / 5.4
09/11 -- 43.5 / 51.2 / 5.3
08/11 -- 43.8 / 50.7 / 5.5
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

 

Cross-posted at Business Insider
Cross-posted at The Huffington Post

Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

 

25 Comments on “Obama Poll Watch -- November, 2011”

  1. [1] 
    Michale wrote:

    I posed a question a few days ago that went unanswered... It would be fascinating to hear the answer..

    Based on events in the here and now, what could realistically happen that would guarantee Obama's chances of being re-elected..

    About the only thing I could come up with was that First Contact happens...

    But that's not really realistic... :D Seriously, about the only thing I can see that would make a re-election a sure thing would be a third-party run by one of the current (or former) GOP candidates..

    So, anyone?? What could realistically happen, based on what is happening now, that would absolutely make Obama a second-term President??

    Enquiring minds want to know.. :D

    Michale
    071

  2. [2] 
    DerFarm wrote:

    Of for crying out loud. Here we go again. Michale, do understand the concept of REFERENCES????

    What could make Obama a 2nd term president right now?
    Bachmann to be to nominee

    Perry to be to nominee

    Santorum to be to nominee

    Gingrich to be to nominee

    Ron Paul to be to nominee

    The problem your having is that you think just because someone disapproves/dislikes/hates Obama they will automatically vote against him and for whatever is run against him. The old the enemy of my enemy is my friend arguement. It ain't so Virginia.

    I don't know who is going to be the R nominee. I strongly suspect that it won't be Romney. I think it will be someone not currently running. You'd better hope so, because the guys currently running won't win against Obama. At least right now. And that, after all IS what you are arguing.

    ... "based on what is happening now ..."

  3. [3] 
    Michale wrote:

    DF,

    Of for crying out loud. Here we go again. Michale, do understand the concept of REFERENCES????

    I was stating an opinion... My "references" are all the crappy things Obama has done since he took office. Which are too numerous to list here...

    What could make Obama a 2nd term president right now?
    Bachmann to be to nominee

    Perry to be to nominee

    Santorum to be to nominee

    Gingrich to be to nominee

    Ron Paul to be to nominee

    The only realistic possibility you list here is Gingrich, and you provide no references to support your claim that a Gingrich candidacy would guarantee an Obama re-election..

    A Gingrich candidacy would excite the conservative base..

    Obama has already depressed the Left Wing base.. Obama has also depressed the Independent/NPA vote AND the Jewish vote..

    I see no reason to believe that a Gingrich candidacy would result in anything but a Gingrich presidency...

    The problem your having is that you think just because someone disapproves/dislikes/hates Obama they will automatically vote against him and for whatever is run against him. The old the enemy of my enemy is my friend arguement. It ain't so Virginia.

    Really?? The facts say differently...

    Obama's Virginia Defeat
    Democrats were trounced in Tuesday's state legislature election, despite the president's heavy investment of time in the state.

    online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204358004577030481545613916.html

    You'd better hope so, because the guys currently running won't win against Obama. At least right now.

    Again, the facts don't support this assertion. Sure you may find a poll here or a poll there that may make the claim, but polls are crap...

    What IS real is that, with one or two exceptions, Obama has depressed and/or pissed off every group that he NEEDS to win re-election, predominantly the NPA/Independent and the jewish groups...

    He is even losing support amongst black groups.. Granted that group probably won't support the R nominee (racism at it's "finest"), but they'll stay home.. Which is the same thing...

    Obama's numbers are DOWN, across the board. And there is no sign that the downward turn will stop anytime soon...

    Barring a third party candidacy, a Ross Perot, Obama doesn't stand a snowball's chance in hell..

    Michale.....

  4. [4] 
    Michale wrote:

    As I said, polls are crap..

    Do you know what really has meaning??

    Elections...

    Look at all the election results since 2009...

    Do you see the pattern??

    In practically every election since 2009, the American people choose conservatives over liberals, GOP over Dem, Republican agenda over Dem agenda..

    THAT is what is telling... Not polls, not wishcasting, not anything..

    When the rubber hit the road, Americans voted against the Democrat agenda practically each and every time...

    From Scott Brown thru the 2010 Mid Terms, thru Weiner's loss in a firm Democrat stronghold, the American People have said, "Enough is enough"...

    If you have anything to counter those FACTS that is NOT a poll, well .........

    "I am all ears"
    -Ross Perot, 1992 Presidential Debate

    Michale.....
    074

  5. [5] 
    DerFarm wrote:

    "Look at all the results since 2009"

    You mean like

    Ohio?

    Wisconsin where 2 of 6 republicans were recalled?

    Arizona?

    NY 26? (I'll grant it was a pluratlity, but big one in a VERY red district).

    Are THOSE the elections you mean???? You must mean those elections because you don't give any references of your own.

    Your water is being carried in a leaky bucket, Michale. I'd think elections since 2010 would be more important than since 2009 ... of course, I'm not struggling to put lipstick on a pig, either.

    And yes, there are stinging defeats of the R's over D's in that same time frame. That's not the point. You're the one predicting an anti-Obama wave. Not me.

  6. [6] 
    DerFarm wrote:

    And as far as not believing the polls? Yeah, that's real smart. How could I doubt that one man with the power of super-opinion can't call out the polls as being wrong. ("...As I said, polls are crap..."}.

    You have a fine stable of people behind you: Miller, Angle, and McDonnell. They all believed the polls were "fixed" also. People like Karl Rove, Jim Carville, David Axelrod and others are just throwing $$$ away down the toilet.

    Ignoring polls in preference to opinion is a good way to get your candidate in last place. Among other things, polls will tell you where to spend your $$ and what ads and approaches might be better suited for your political environment.

  7. [7] 
    Michale wrote:

    Even the A-Listers from Hollywood are very disappointed in Obama...

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/no-happy-ending-the-end-of-obamas-hollywood-romance-6272851.html

    Now, will this translate into votes for the GOP??

    Unlikely...

    But it WILL mean that stars like Damon, Clooney and Lear will likely keep their money OUT of Obama's coffers..

    And their legions of fans might also follow suit and not be voting for Obama...

    Wherever you turn, there is bad news for Obama...

    Michale....
    075

  8. [8] 
    DerFarm wrote:

    Noew lets talk about Newt and his historically irrelevant baggage.

    It is a FACT, not a poll, that most of the stuff that Newt has done, said, perpetrated are going to be NEW THINGS to a great part of the electorate. If you were born after 1985, you probably don't know diddly over sqat about Gingrich and what he has done with his life. (12-15 year olds tend not to pay attention to former congress people.)

    Of course, this is MY opinion which has been formed by actually thinking about what it would take for Newt to win.

    And that stuff about Newt energizing the conservatives? Get real. If there were any true love for Newt he wouldn't have had to wait while the clowns got their shot. He can no more energize the base with his tired ideas than Romney could. Just my opinion.

  9. [9] 
    DerFarm wrote:

    This is my last post on this column. I'm pretty sure the rest of the commentors are getting tired of Michale and I flailing away to no purpose.

    But as a serious question:

    Assuming that you have 3 or 4 points to make about any given issue, is it preferable to make them in one post or multiple posts?

    arguements can be made in both directions.

    Signing off for today.

  10. [10] 
    Michale wrote:

    You must mean those elections because you don't give any references of your own.

    You must have missed it when I said Scott Brown, the 2010 Midterms (remember that shellacking??) and Weiner..

    Yes, there are a few that are outliers.. But, by and large, every time the American people spoke with their votes, Democrats came out on the losing end...

    Polls are crap because they can be twisted to say anything that anyone wants...

    The only TRUE compass is the results of elections..

    And the past 3 years have shown that Democrats are on the losing end practically each and every time..

    But, by all means. Continue to delude yourself into thinking that the American people are on Obama's side...

    It'll just make the results of Election 2012 all the more sweeter.. :D

    But don't worry.. I am not the kind of person to exclaim, "I TOLD YA SO"....

    ..... Much... :D

    Michale.....
    076

  11. [11] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Michale [1] -

    No problem. Ask and ye shall receive. Unemployment continues down at the same rate it did last month (0.4% per mo.). 11 months of this, and unemployment would be down to 4.2%.

    Can you say landslide? I knew you could!

    Heh.

    Now, I'm not saying it's likely to happen, mind you. I'm just answering your request for how Obama would be a lock for a second term, that's all.

    DerFarm [2] -

    Heh. Now that's a more practical route, I have to admit...

    DerFarm [9] -

    Either way is fine with me. It's kind of a style issue, more than anything. Long, or multiple short, I still read them all...

    Michale [10] -

    What will you say if Walker is successfully recalled, hmm?

    -CW

  12. [12] 
    Michale wrote:

    CW,

    No problem. Ask and ye shall receive. Unemployment continues down at the same rate it did last month (0.4% per mo.). 11 months of this, and unemployment would be down to 4.2%.

    Can you say landslide? I knew you could!

    I completely agree with you..

    IF that happened, it WOULD be an Obama landslide..

    But to be honest, I think there is more of a chance of First Contact.. :D

    But, seriously... The fact that Unemployment has gone down is not so much because of Job Creation as it is that people have simply stopped looking for work...

    What will you say if Walker is successfully recalled, hmm?

    If Walker is successfully recalled, I would say it's a win for the Democrats..

    But it's a drop in the ocean compared with the shellacking of the mid-terms...

    If there are more decisions like a successful Walker recall that favor the Democrat agenda, then you might have something..

    But to date, Democrats have lost footing BIG TIME since 2008...

    This is undeniable...

    Michale.....
    087

  13. [13] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Comment Preview Update:

    OK, I've fixed a bug, or made it more elegant (take your pick).

    The preview box should not show up until you actually click on "Preview". Still working on the paragraph thing, but found a way to fix this part of it.

    Let me know if anyone has any problems...

    -CW

  14. [14] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    Obama has already depressed the Left Wing base.. Obama has also depressed the Independent/NPA vote AND the Jewish vote...

    nobody (and i mean nobody) depresses the jewish vote. for jews in america, the order of importance of our holy days is as follows:

    1. Yom Kippur
    2. Passover
    3. Rosh Hashana
    4. The Tuesday After The First Monday In November
    5. Every Other Holiday

    we'll vote alright, perhaps for the president, perhaps not (and perhaps not for the reasons you think)

  15. [15] 
    Michale wrote:

    Perhaps "depresses" was the wrong choice of words..

    Affects would have been a better word...

    Michale
    092

  16. [16] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    michale,

    Perhaps "depresses" was the wrong choice of words..

    Affects would have been a better word...

    I would say that what's affected is not so much the vote itself, but the campaign. even among the president's supporters, there is not a whole lot of enthusiasm, which will most likely have the consequence of depressing the vote total. that's probably why you used the word depressed, even though it might not be strictly accurate.

    my impression is that most folks who voted for Obama last time are planning to vote for him again, but there are definitely going to be fewer people canvassing, phone banking, or otherwise volunteering to help get out the democratic vote.

    CW,

    No problem. Ask and ye shall receive. Unemployment continues down at the same rate it did last month (0.4% per mo.). 11 months of this, and unemployment would be down to 4.2%.

    Can you say landslide? I knew you could!

    i consider that scenario unlikely considering the current economic climate and the recent behavior of corporate america. but it's nice to dream...

  17. [17] 
    Michale wrote:

    my impression is that most folks who voted for Obama last time are planning to vote for him again....

    I would agree with this, with the addition;

    .... if they vote at all.

    It's likely that the votes for Obama will not even be on the same planet as his 2008 numbers..

    This is what will do him in....

    Michale.....
    099

  18. [18] 
    Michale wrote:

    I would say that what's affected is not so much the vote itself, but the campaign. even among the president's supporters, there is not a whole lot of enthusiasm, which will most likely have the consequence of depressing the vote total. that's probably why you used the word depressed, even though it might not be strictly accurate.

    Why does this plaque that was in my 3rd Grade Principle's office come to mind.

    I am sure you think you know what I said. But I believe that what you heard is not what I meant

    Seems I just said the same thing you said, in a different way...

    "Now that I hear it out loud, I like what you said better."
    -Kurt Fuller, PSYCH

    :D

    Michale
    107

  19. [19] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Hey everyone -

    Didn't anyone guess the presidents? Who got any of the three right?

    'Fess up!

    :-)

    -CW

  20. [20] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    @CW,

    i guessed that one of them was Clinton and another might be Reagan, but I didn't make any formal guesses before i read the answers.

    as best i can tell, the president's ratings have been bouncing around 45/50 for almost a year and a half. my prediction is that he stays around 45/50 for the next year, and whether or not he wins will depend on outside factors.

  21. [21] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    nypoet22 -

    The surprise to me was LBJ, when I went looking for who was closest to Obama right at the moment, I have to admit.

    Hey, you're being paged over on the last FTP column's comments, on a grammar question; see my long comment around #125, and search for your bolded name... it's about the propriety of "y'all"...

    Heh.

    -CW

  22. [22] 
    dsws wrote:

    Nypoet:
    Or just follow ye permalink: http://www.chrisweigant.com/2011/12/02/ftp190/#comment-17734

    My reply is down at [140] on that page. To follow the whole thread, just search repeatedly for "inherently".

  23. [23] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    @CW/David,

    this isn't really my area of expertise, but from what i've read, y'all cuts across almost all southern dialects and its meaning isn't a hundred percent established. as david says, it seems to behave like its own word, not just a contraction of you and all. but that may depend on the context in which it's used, since grammar rules can depend on the dialect.

    gina richardson of georgetown equates it with the french vous - a more formal address. people tend to just assume that it's plural, including speakers of the dialects that use it. presumably that's because standard english tends to be pretty specific about singular and plural - when a word doesn't have its own grammatical number, we throw one in by using a determiner - and in some dialects presumably y'all still does mean "you all."

    however, the usages i've read about do seem to suggest that it's sort-of collective rather than being singular or plural. i can't quite tell whether or not that makes it a collective pronoun, but there seems to at least be ambiguity about whether or not there's a semantic number. if not, "y'all" could potentially mean you and everyone who could possibly be associated with you, or just you.

  24. [24] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    all of which is a fancy way of saying i have no idea, but i dropped a text message to an actual expert and will likely have an authoritative answer by sometime this weekend.

  25. [25] 
    dsws wrote:

    as david says, it seems to behave like its own word

    Dan, not David.

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