President Barack Obama will have a net neutral approval rating by December, and here's why.
It has been a rough almost three years for Barack Obama. There's no doubt that Obama has faced a great deal of scrutiny, from all angles, since the beginning of his presidency. Additionally, since the GOP took control of the House of Representatives, it has been increasingly difficult for him to get any of his bills, initiatives, or policy plans passed in Congress. Not surprisingly, as a consequence of this barrage of negative attention, Obama's approval ratings have suffered greatly.
According to Gallup, from July to September, President Obama's average approval rating stood at a very weak 41%. This was most likely a result of relatively high and stagnant unemployment, media hyped fears of a double dip recession, continual reports of low economic growth, and a Republican field taking up all of the oxygen on the news, using most of their time to denigrate the president in any way they could. Of course, additionally, there is the constant anti-Obama/anti-government chatter that you will here wherever you go.
However, things are starting to look up for the president. Taking a look at the current polling data on the approval of Barack Obama's job as president, beginning in October, and extrapolating the current trend line of the these polls there is a lot of hope that these 'underwater' numbers will reverse themselves, and it will not take relatively long for this to happen.
Obama started the month of October with an approval rating of around 41.5% with a disapproval rating of around 54% (This was found by using a logarithmic regression of over thirty polls from October 2 to October 26). Doing some quick math would tell you that his net approval rating around negative twelve and a half percent (12.5%). This number is not only disheartening to supporters of the President, but not a good omen when the election is thirteen months away. However, several things have happened since the beginning of the month, and as a result so have the President's fortunes. As of today, October 28, President Obama's approval is around 43%, with a disapproval of ~51.5%, or a net approval of negative eight and a half percent (8.5%). This is a dramatic and impressive, but not unexpected, rebound for the president, and there are several reasons why I believe this has happened.
Since the beginning of the month, Obama has taken out two of the world's most dangerous leaders in Anwar al-Awlaki and Muomar Khaddafi, which has only continued to strengthen his foreign policy credentials both abroad and at home. This is proof for independents that Obama's policy can be successful, and that they may be giving him a second look. Additionally, the President announced the that by the end of the year, all US troops will be withdrawn from Iraq, an action which a majority of American's believe is well overdue. This move hypothetically would increase Obama's approval among a variety of different groups, from liberals and libertarians who never liked to the war, to independents and conservatives who have grown increasingly sour of the war.
While these moves have likely helped Obama, the economy is the lead story, and what happens in the country with regards to the economy will have the greatest impact on his reelection chances and his approval ratings in general. In that vain, there have been several recent reports and polls which have shown that the stagnancy of the economy may be coming to an end, and that the fears of a double dip recession may have been well overblown. Last quarter, advance estimates show that the GDP grew at a rate of about 2.5%, which while not great, is much better than many thought it would be. Additionally, a recent Gallup study showed that unemployment may have decreased by a significant rate in October, a study which the jobs report will hopefully confirm this coming Friday. Consumers hear more positive news and as a result, have a more positive attitude about, which can only help the President.
Both domestically and with regard to foreign policy, there are concrete reasons to help understand this increase; however, I believe the political narrative has much more to do with it that anything. If one looks at the events of the past month, several narratives emerge. First, the President is among the people, and getting things done. Since early September, Barack Obama has been on the road through many states all over the country promoting and explaining his jobs bill, rallying his base, and showing the American people that he is trying to get something positive done in Washington. Additionally, Obama has shown an increasingly assertive tone by deciding to implement policy through executive order and directly confront those in Congress who continue to block progressive and positive action. While this is happening the media is also continuing to focus on the Republican primary. On its face, this might seem to be a benefit for the Republican candidates, as many of them will become more well known and their views will be available for public consumption. However, it seems that the more people get to see of candidates such as Michelle Bachmann, Rick Perry, and Herman Cain, the less they like, as these candidates do not seem serious, practical, or realistic options for the presidency of the United States. Once again, Barack Obama looks stronger compared to these candidates, and among independents becomes a more viable and practical choice for reelection.
Given these three narratives, it is not surprising to see President Obama's approval ratings on the rise. If the economy continues to grow, particularly through the holiday season, and the President continues to stress the importance of the passage of a comprehensive jobs bill to an increasingly intransigent Republican led House of Representatives, his approval will only continue to rise. The trend suggests that by mid to late December, Barack Obama will have a neutral net Approval rating of approximately 45 to 46%. If unemployment drops by an even more significant rate, and the public becomes increasingly frustrated with the GOP in Congress, look for his approval to increase by an even greater rate.
It is easy to count out Barack Obama; however, I believe but attitude is beginning to change and people are beginning to see the real problems within our government, and understand that this President is trying to help and is trying to make things better for the middle class.