Aug 08 2010
Update: It seems the Washington Post is seeing the same change in the public mood that I outlined below, and came to the same basic conclusion:
But when the shouting dies down, it becomes possible to hear something else, something Democrats know is an even greater threat to them this fall.
With polls consistently showing that dissatisfaction with Washington is at or near record levels, another word for what voters are feeling right now might be “frustration,” or “despair,” or “disgust.” Ask Donald Burroughs which best describes his feeling about elected officials these days and he says, “All of it.”
“People are really smart,” said Democratic pollster Anna Greenberg. “They know the economic collapse happened before Obama. They hold lots of people responsible, and they’re realistic enough to know you can’t change things overnight. People are more angry at Washington being broken, and the wrong people being helped.”
Peter Hart, another Democratic pollster, agreed. “All they see is they’re being left out of the process,” he said.
Bottom line – the country is going to send DC a clear and unambiguous message come November. And soon a lot of Democrats will know what it means to lose their jobs. – end update
This is all gut feeling stuff I have been pondering, but I finally decided it would be interesting to share what I think will happen to the polls as we leave another summer of economic disaster and head into the fall election season.
I have seen Obama’s approval numbers sort of flatten out in Rasmussen and Gallup for a week now and I believe this confirms what I think the country is going through generally. Rasmussen uses likely voters (LVs) and compares the strongly approve/strongly disapprove categories for Obama. In today’s numbers the Obama deficit is at a recent high of -10%. It had been as bad as -20% in June and July many times. So why did this number show so much positive movement in August? Was there any big news worthy of that much shift? Not really.
Same thing with Gallup, which samples “national adults” at this time of year (they will transition soon to LVs or RVs). This is the kindest measure possible for President Obama and has had him near 50% disapprove the last month or so. But it too has shown an uptick in support in August.
The only metric showing a massive decline of late is in the generic congressional average at RCP, which is hitting historic levels for the GOP in advance of the Dems.
So why is there support increasing for President Obama while his policies and his colleagues in Congress are taking a royal beating?
I think there are many factors at play here – all of which are effecting the poll accuracies. First off, this year is unlike any other in recent history in terms of economic pain and voter anger with DC. Which means all polls are going to miss the mark because of their reliance on historic demographic trends that just don’t fit this year. These demographic models are the method pollsters use to translate a small sample into a statistical representation of the general public. They will all be out of kilter this year, sometimes in many areas simultaneously.
Then there is the shifting allegiances with parties, as a secondary effect. While the Democrats are bleeding support, Â the GOP is not gaining any. Everyone is moving to the ‘unaligned’ or ‘independent’ column. This too is going to royally mess up demographic models.
Even more so given the third effect I think could be in play, and that is voter anger and resignation. For a year the voters have been making it clear in town halls, protests, in the voting booths, party registration and party donations they are fed up. They have been screaming from the top of their lungs – and no one has paid attention. They may have just disengaged until the can hit the electric shock buttons in the voting booths, which seem to be the only way to get a Pol in DC to pay attention these days.
This frustration to the deaf political industrial complex is resulting in a major tuning out of politics while people salvage what they can from their summer vacations. I suspect a major portion of the electorate is no longer accessible to pollsters, the very same portion ready to vote the bums out en masse.
That is not to say these angry voters will not reengage this year. These people will be back in the fall with a vengeance, and probably back in the polls as early as mid September (once the kids are back into the groove of school). Then the inaccurate polls of August will start to fade as the more accurate measurements come in play. Once Gallup stops wasting time on samples of ‘adults’ Obama’s support is going to crash. Once every pollster moves to likely voter (LV) samples the Democrats’ pending implosion will become frighteningly clear. RCPs averages will be all LVs at some point.
And through it all President Obama’s numbers may not cave. There is a small chance America will give him one more opportunituy to pay attention to We The People. Some Americans who voted for him may provide one last rally of support, give him one last chance to get right with the country after they send the message and wipe out much of his party. Then again, they may already be so fed up the see no reason to give any more chances.
Either way, the inflated polls of August will disappear in the coming weeks and months to something much more accurate, and I predict much worse for the party that let America down and refused to listen to her people.