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On June 22nd, 2009, we wrote a note titled, “Approval Breaking Down For Obama”, which outlined the following:

“Most interestingly, the independents that moved to Obama in hoards during the presidential election last fall, now seem to be seriously wavering.  While on the other hand, Obama's support among his own party is as strong as ever.  So what is happening among the independents?  The best place to find that answer may come from New Hampshire.  In the New Hampshire Union Leader this morning, which is the largest paper in New Hampshire, there was an editorial sharply critical of Obama's health care plan, and specifically the disconnect between Obama saying there will be no additional spending for his plan and the Congressional Budget Office suggesting that current proposals would dramatically increase spending.”

According to the New Hampshire Union Leader:

"For health care reform to "not add to the federal deficit over the next decade," every penny of new taxpayer spending on health care reform would have to be paid for by either a tax increase or a spending cut somewhere else. We're talking about roughly $1 trillion in spending -- all paid for. But remember, we already have a $1.8 trillion deficit this year. Every penny spent on health care reform is a penny not spent to pay down the existing deficit. So in reality, health care reform will at the very least perpetuate existing deficits even if it doesn't expand them.

While having solidarity among his party is powerful, in a country where only ~ 40% of adults identify themselves as Democrats, Obama has to continue to appeal to independents and if the New Hampshire Union Leader is any proxy, he is losing them.”

It is fair to say that Obama’s approval rating is now broken, and the independents are slipping away. Since June 30th, the Rasmussen daily tracking poll has measured a negative rating for Obama and since July 9th has registered a rating of between – 5 and – 8.  This is a major divergence from the first couple months of his Presidency in which he was rated in the +15 to +20 range.  This poll measures the delta between strongly approve and strongly disapprove. 

Not surprisingly, the underlying data shows the tale of the tape.  According to Rasmussen, almost 83% of Democrats approve of President Obama, while 81% of Republicans disapprove, and approval among those voters without party affiliation is basically split.  This leads to broad approval rating for Obama, according to the Rasmussen polls, which is still positive with 51% of voters approving.  Despite the still positive approval rating, as we’ve noted before, the Rasmussen Daily Tracking poll is often a leading indicator for broader approval as it measures what is happening on the extremes.  Shifts in strongly approve and strongly disapprove reflect these extremes and sustainable changes on the extremes will lead to a sustainable change in overall approval ratings.

Obviously highlighting President Obama’s approval rating is not a political comment by us, but an observation of fact.  The reality is, President Obama has been spending substantial political capital in the first few months of his Presidency.  Unlike his predecessor who asserted that he had earned political capital going into his second term and was going to spend it, President Obama did have real political capital to spend.  That said, President Obama’s political bank account now has substantially less capital in it as he has spent it on healthcare, foreign policy, and the stimulus package.  As of yet, he has seen only a negative return on this capital, and if he cares at all about his approval rating he will be much more prudent in spending political capital on a go forward basis.

Daryl G. Jones

Managing Director

Obama’s Approval Broken - rasmussen