NRL News

Even the Washington Post Worries that Opposition to Obama’s is Growing “Strongly”

by | Oct 6, 2011

By Dave Andrusko

The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza

The headline in today’s Washington Post suggests how nervous his media allies are becoming: “Opposition to Obama grows — strongly.”

The immediate impetus for this gloom and doom analysis was yesterday’s Washington Post/ABC News poll (see here).

As you may recall, the brunt of Tuesday’s story was pro-life businessman Herman Cain vaulting into a tie for second place among Republican presidential candidates. There was just a few comments about President Obama’s dismal showing.

But there was an urgent urgency for Post writers Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake, not because of one poll but because of a “hardening opposition” that reflects a downward trajectory that has gone on for months and months. (See–strongly/2011/10/04/gIQAlch2ML_blog.html.)

What is the evidence? Obviously, there’s the numbers that jump out at you: Obama’s approval rating is a jaw dropping 42%, while his disapproval has soared to 54%. But Cillizza and Blake hardly pause to even talk about that. They’re looking for intensity—growing intensity–over time among key demographic groups.

A whopping 43% of Independents strongly disapprove, not to mention 47% of people 65 and older, the segment of the population most likely to vote.

But what about the intensely approve? They are heading as consistently downward as intense disapproval is heading upwards.

For example, “In January, 30 percent strongly approved of the job Obama was doing,” Cillizza and Blake write. “In the latest Post-ABC survey, that numbers is 21 percent and, as recently as early August, it had dipped to 18 percent.” And that includes among Democrats.

“All of those numbers,” Cillizza and Blake write, “point to a simple fact: The ‘anyone but Obama’ crowd is getting larger and more strident in its opinions, while the president’s base is growing less and less strongly supportive of how he is doing his job.”

So this “poll data provide empirical evidence for the recent switch in Obama’s rhetoric from a focus on compromise (aimed at independents) to one that accentuates the differences between his approach and the one advocated by Republicans (aimed at Democrats).” And they point to the Post/ABC News for verification: “More than eight in 10 Democrats — and 81 percent of liberals — support it [the jobs bill].”

Although Cillizza and Blake don’t go into it, this “solidifying your base” strategy only works if you don’t (a) completely energize your opponents and (b) completely turn off Independents. Obama’s gamble is that in casting Republicans—and specifically the Republican presidential nominee–as the devil incarnate he can persuade enough Independents to buy into this to narrowly win re-election.

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Categories: Obama