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July 18, 2011

ABC's The Note Asks: How Much Longer Can Obama's Approval Rating Defy Political Gravity?

Interesting piece, excerpted at Hot Air, hitting on the preference cascade effect I keep predicting. (And you know my stellar record on predictions.)

Psychologists talk about “cognitive dissonance,” the tension that people feel when their thoughts are inconsistent with one another. In this case, it’s feeling as if the president is doing a pretty lousy job on the economy, but still giving him decent (though not glowing) marks when it comes to his overall presidency.

At some point, psychologists will tell you, relief from the tension comes only when you try to restore consistency.

Something has to give; one rating has to movie, eventually, to more closely match the other.

The writer looks for a precedent of a president with low economic approval ratings diverging from his own approval ratings, and finds one in George H.W. Bush; Bush's approval ratings were 70% or higher following the huge success of the Gulf War, but even then, only 36% approved of his handling of the economy.

Eventually his approval rating collapsed:

By June of 1992, the laws of political gravity and cognitive dissonance had taken their toll on Bush. At that point, only 23 percent of Americans approved of the job Bush was doing on the economy and his overall job approval rating was 35 percent.

Is President Unprecedented actually pretty well precedented?


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posted by Ace at 05:25 PM

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