President Obama hasn’t had the greatest 2013. According to a new ABC News/Washington Post poll, the president is ending the year with a 43 percent approval rating, matching the lowest point of his presidency. And his supporters aren’t nearly as boisterous as his detractors. Just 23 percent of all respondents strongly approve of his job performance, compared with the 41 percent who strongly disapprove.
The president still has his fan base. It’s just that, these days, it isn’t too rabid.
While the president has a 90 percent approval rating among self-described liberal Democrats, only 54 percent of that group “very strongly” approve of Obama, according to new data from the Pew Research Center. Thirty-two percent of that group explicitly approve of the president “not so strongly.”
It hasn’t always been this way. This past June, Obama had strong support from 73 percent of liberal Democrats, and had “not so strong” support from just 17 percent. The nosedive is most pronounced among liberals ages 18-49, only 46 percent of whom now strongly support the president, compared wth 65 percent of liberals over 50.
(Pew Research)The drop in strong approval among liberals — whether because of the NSA scandals, the stalemate on immigration reform, the Obamacare rollout, or anything else — presents a strong contrast to George W. Bush’s base five years in. Even though Bush’s base was smaller, it was far more vehement in its support.
Tuesday’s Washington Post poll is obviously bad news for the president, especially heading into another round of midterm elections. But the apparent enthusiasm gap, if it continues on its current trend, could be a harbinger of much bigger 2014 problems — although the outlook is slightly better because older Americans vote in higher numbers in midterrm elections than do younger Americans. Democrats will have to hope that the president’s on-again, off-again relationship with liberals hits a hot streak next fall.
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Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”
“We haven’t seen a true leftist since FDR, so many millions are coming out of the woodwork to vote for Bernie Sanders; he is the Occupy movement now come to life in the political arena.” So says Bill Maher in his Hollywood Reporter cover story (more a stream-of-consciousness riff than an essay, actually). Conservative states may never vote for a socialist in the general election, but “this stuff has never been on the table, and these voters have never been activated.” Maher saves most of his bile for Donald Trump and Sarah Palin, writing that by nominating Palin as vice president “John McCain is the one who opened the Book of the Dead and let the monsters out.” And Trump is picking up where Palin left off.