Research 2000 for Daily Kos. 8/17-20/2009. All adults. MoE 2% (8/10-13/2009 results):
|PRESIDENT OBAMA||58 (60)||38 (36)||-4|
|PELOSI:||34 (36)||57 (56)||-3|
|REID:||33 (34)||56 (55)||-2|
|McCONNELL:||17 (16)||65 (66)||+2|
|BOEHNER:||13 (11)||65 (66)||+3|
|CONGRESSIONAL DEMS:||41 (43)||53 (51)||-4|
|CONGRESSIONAL GOPS:||12 (10)||75 (76)||+3|
|DEMOCRATIC PARTY:||44 (45)||49 (48)||-2|
|REPUBLICAN PARTY:||18 (17)||72 (74)||+3|
This week's edition of the Daily Kos Weekly National Tracking Poll tends to fly in the face of conventional wisdom, even as it mirrors other national pollsters. We see Obama's favorabilities drop into the 50s for the first time this year in our survey (remember that there is a marked distinction between "job approval" and "favorability" ratings, with favorability ratings usually being several points higher). This drop, as well as drops across the board for Democrats this week, have been witnessed in other surveys, as well.
The conventional wisdom, however, has been that the Democrats are suffering from some sort of political Icarus syndrome. They are flying too high and too soon, and the public disapproval will send them crashing back to earth.
The problem with that rationale, at least in our numbers this week, is that it doesn't match with the data.
Across the board, the drops among Obama and the Democratic Party have come not from the loyal opposition, nor have they come from dismayed Independents.
They have come from Democrats.
A cursory look at the graph for Obama's favorability, broken down by party, shows that after a long period of relative stability among Democrats, there was a sharp drop this week:
Looking at the raw numbers, the drop in Democratic support is even more notable:
Net Favorability Ratings For President Obama, By Party (Last Week in Parens)
DEMOCRATS: +72 (+78)
REPUBLICANS: - 86 (- 84)
INDEPENDENTS: +35 (+39)
As you can see, the needle barely moved among Republicans (with 6% favorability, there wasn't a whole lot of ground to concede). Independents moved, but it was Democrats that saw the sharpest drop.
This effect was even more magnified when looking at the perception of the electorate towards Congressional Democrats:
Net Favorability Ratings For Congressional Democrats, By Party (Last Week in Parens)
DEMOCRATS: +55 (+65)
REPUBLICANS: - 90 (- 90)
INDEPENDENTS: - 20 (- 15)
Anyone who thinks the protracted arguments over health care aren't frustrating the Democratic base need look no further. A ten-point dip in net favorability, in a single week, is a pretty solid statement.
A quick look at the generic Congressional ballot confirms that the Democrats have shed a great deal of soft supporters over the last few weeks. The margin between the Democrats and Republicans now rests at six points (35-29), the closest we have seen on that question since the item was inserted into the poll a couple of months back. Interestingly, the Republicans have gained virtually nothing over that time. The steady stream of voters no longer willing to commit to the Democrats on the ballot test have almost uniformly gone into the ranks of the undecided.
This is the first evidence we have seen that the Democratic base is starting to get impatient. The disgruntled Democratic base is also paying dividends the other way. The GOP sees rebounding numbers across the board. A quick look at the internals tells us that this is being driven, in no small part, by a boost from their own base.
Yet another piece of evidence to bolster the long-held maxim that who is on offense, and who is on defense, matters a great deal in American politics.