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November 20, 2009

Gallup: Obama Under 50% for First Time;
Charlie Cook Report: Obama "Beyond Radioactive" In Many Districts Held By Democratic Reps

Finally. The fourth fastest fall below majority support of any president, coming in just days after Reagan fell below 50%, for similar reasons.

Reagan of course became very popular, but he had an advantage Obama doesn't: Reagan installed a low-tax regime that spurred economic growth.

More interesting is Charlie Cook's report. The last time I mentioned him, he was stuck with his previous prediction of solid, but not major, Republican gains. He seems to be walking that back now, and walking towards a potential Democratic disaster.

The problem, it turns out, isn't all those moderate freshmen Democrats who won in purple districts in 2006 and 2008. The problem is the old guard of the Democratic regime, the Blue Dogs serving for years and years in red districts. They've long been considered untouchable, simply due to their eternal incumbency; but Obama is delivering some unwelcome change in this regard.

Plenty of veteran Democrats who haven't had to break a campaign sweat this decade are quickly losing their aura of invincibility. Next fall, some in this category are likelier to face tough races than many of the 42 less tenured Democrats who populate the "Frontline" list. As of today, eight House Democrats elected prior to 2006 sit in our "Lean Democratic" and "Toss Up" columns, and another 20 whom we view as potentially vulnerable sit in our "Likely Democratic" column.

This is not to say that highly influential and venerated fixtures such as Reps. Ike Skelton (MO-04), John Spratt (SC-05), Bart Gordon (TN-06), John Tanner (TN-08 ) and Rick Boucher (VA-09) are goners next year. Their eventual vulnerability is highly dependent on the quality of GOP nominees and the discipline of their "time for change" messages. But if these party elders decide to seek reelection rather than retire, the underlying dynamics of their districts suggest at least several will need to fight to survive.

Many watchers of House politics are tempted to downplay the potential for real races in these districts after taking one look at immediate past election history. How could Republicans possibly threaten the likes of Skelton or Spratt, both of whom won more than 62 percent of the vote in 2008? Or Gordon, Tanner, or Boucher, all of whom were unopposed last year? But that was before they were saddled with a sitting Democratic president who is beyond radioactive in their districts. History is history.

Less than a year out from Election Day, it's time to rethink who the vulnerable Democrats are. And if President Obama is the dominant issue of the 2010 midterms (and rarely has a midterm not been a referendum on the incumbent president), Democrats ought to be seriously concerned about districts where reliable surveys suggest voters are in open revolt against him. Democrats would rather not draw attention to their problems in these districts, but both parties recognize the sea change underway.

This is painfully obvious but I guess I'll say it anyway: After the blowout in Virginia, none of these guys can count on ObaMagic to help them out if they vote against their constituents' strong and strengthening wishes.

At the moment, the Real Clear Politics average has Obama at his lowest level of support yet, at just barely over 50%. That will change, I presume, when the silly-ass WashPost/ABCNews poll (56% -- right) drops off the average.

Dorgan In Trouble? Even Dorgan?

This is another finding of that Zogby poll I mentioned yesterday. Skepticism is warranted, because the poll was commissioned with the specific goal of threatening Democratic Senators with electoral trouble if they vote for ObamaCare. Nevertheless, there is something going on here. Maybe exaggerated or tarted up, but still, something.

Versus a likely -- but not yet announced -- challenger (Governor John Hoeven), Dorgan's behind and not by a little.

In a potential 2010 election match-up Republican Governor John Hoeven leads Democratic Senator Byron Dorgan 55% to 36% with 9% undecided. Senator Dorgan, however, leads another possible challenger, Republican Duane Sand, by a similar margin, 60% to 28% with 10% undecided. Twenty-eight percent of likely North Dakotan voters support the healthcare bill proposed by President Obama compared with 62% who oppose the proposed legislation, including 48% who strongly oppose the bill. A plurality of respondents believe that both North Dakota Senators Byron Dorgan and Kent Conrad support the proposed bill.

When asked how a vote by Senator Dorgan in support of the healthcare bill would impact their potential vote for the Senator in the 2010 election, 12% of likely voters say they would be more likely to vote for Senator Dorgan as a result, while 40% would be less likely. Forty-six percent say Senator Dorgan's vote on health care makes no difference, including 62% of likely-Dorgan voters.

As Charlie Cook noted, so much depends on what quality of opposition the Republicans recruit. But if it looks like a Republican year, possible candidates tend to become actual candidates. Giuliani, for example: Many assumed he would never want the job of Senator, and, honestly, it's probably not his dream job. But if it looks like he can actually win it -- and maybe even easily -- it's a lot more appealing.

So is Governor Hoeven a likely challenger? Well, if he can confirm this poll, he's a hell of a lot likelier to try.

One more bit of good news: I linked the Fox poll -- 46% approve, 46% disapprove -- yesterday, but failed to see the sorta-shocking data point Allah highlighted: Among independents, support for Obama is at... 34%, with 51% opposed.

His overall approval rating’s pretty grim too — 46/46, down five points since last month — but I’m highlighting the indies because (a) this is the same Fox News poll with the suspicious Republican sample that I cited earlier, and (b) a -17 among the group that’s going to decide the midterms is eye-popping, especially when you compare it to last month. In October, among indies, he was at 49/34. This month, a 15-point swing. What happened?

I'm a little skeptical of this poll. It just seems odd and doesn't make a lot of sense to me. (Democrats are only sampled by 2% more than Republicans, 38-36; and Independents are heavily against Obama, yet he still has a 46% approval rate? Lot of weird stuff.) But... again, still. One doesn't have to believe every single crosstab of every single poll to realize that something bad has turned here for Obama.

Like, for example, this:

A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Friday morning indicates that 38 percent of the public blames Republicans for the country’s current economic problems. That’s down 15 points from May, when 53 percent blamed the GOP. According to the poll 27 percent now blame the Democrats for the recession, up 6 points from May. Twenty-seven percent now say both parties are responsible for the economic mess.

Every Obama promise has an expiration date -- how's that sub-8% unemployment rate working for everyone? -- and so now, finally, does Obama's go-to excuse of Blaming Bush.


Thanks to AHFF Geoff and CraigA.


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posted by Ace at 03:32 PM

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