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August 19, 2011

Gallup: 40/53 (Disapproval Up One Since Yesterday, Approval Unchanged)

Apologies for always linking this, but, again, I am looking for confirmation of my belief the last month constituted a tipping point or preference cascade, not just a short-term blip, but an enduring loss of support.

(Actually, per preference cascade theory, it's not so much a loss of support as an acknowledgement that support has been lost; the theory goes that some of the public has long doubted/opposed Obama, but only with the latest horrific news have they stopped concealing this and become comfortable saying aloud what they've long believed.)

So the approximate 39-40 approval, 51-54 disapproval level continues to hold.

This article claims that you'll know he's gone when his personal favorability rating starts to fall.

The theory is the personal favorability rating represents the upper bound of possible public support; that's the highest level, and will be reached (but not exceeded, or not by much anyway) when the President is helped by favorable news.

So the personal favorability rating is the ceiling of his plausible level of support or vote share in the elections. There is no real floor, except for the 36% of the public that will vote Democratic no matter what the hell happens.

A high personal-favorability rating can bolster a lousy job-approval rating. But once the personal rating falls, rehabilitating a president's professional image becomes much more difficult. Voters can decide they're simply done rooting for a president to succeed, as they did with [Bush after 2005].


For the moment, Obama's personal-favorability ratings have not followed the same downward trajectory [that his job approval ratings have]. The most recent ratings from Gallup show 52 percent of Americans viewed Obama favorably in late April....

Obama's high personal-favorability ratings show swing voters are rooting for him to succeed, while his low job-performance rating demonstrates they don't like where he's going so far. If Obama's favorability ratings start sinking to match his approval numbers, it may be a sign that those critical independent voters have washed their hands of his presidency.

The claim is made that job approval ratings fluctuate based on current news and mood, whereas personal favorability is both more enduring, and harder to get back -- once someone decides they're done with you, it's hard to ever get them back.

The difference is between "My employee is screwing up lately" -- an attitude that can be changed with better performance -- and "My employee is a screw-up" -- an enduring personal assessment of unworthiness which is harder to overcome by hard work.

While the article speaks of Obama's personal favorability still being high, I seem to read it as being at 52%, which does not strike me as terribly high.

Higher than 39 or 40%, of course.

I suppose the Maginot here is 48% -- once his personal favorability drops to that level or lower, that represents his best plausible vote share, which means under most plausible scenarios he's out of office January 2013.

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posted by Ace at 01:31 PM

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