Obama’s unpopularity

Was There a “bin Laden bump” for Obama?

I was tempted to ask if there was an “Osama bump” for Obama. Ah well, mustn’t be snarky about our “gutsy” leader, who did no more than he should have done, though he had to “sleep on it” before he approved the Abbottabad operation.

The first graph below gives Obama’s unpopularity ratings for the ten weeks surrounding the date on which Osama’s demise was announced: May 1, 2011. The blue shading spans polls that preceded the announcement. (The May 1 results were released in the morning; Obama announced Osama’s death later that day.) The green shading spans the two days (May 2 and 3) for which Obama’s disapproval rating reflected, in part, the results of polling conducted before the May 1 announcement.

It is evident that Obama was gaining ground, even before the May 1 announcement. We may take his rating of -11 on May 1 as a baseline for the evaluation of the effect of bin Laden’s death. Generously, Obama gained 4 points, and held that gain from May 7 through May 18. So much for the “bin Laden bump.”

It appears that Obama’s unpopularity was already returning to its core level of about -10 — a level that it had reached in the aftermath of the enactment of Obamacare. (See the second and third graphs.) And Obama’s unpopularity has stayed around its core level since the end of the modest “bin Laden bump.”

Why has Obama’s unpopularity returned to its core level? Here is my surmise: The battle lines are being drawn for election 2012, and those independents who enjoyed deriding Obama (for many legitimate reasons) are “coming home to roost” because they fear that if Obama loses in 2012 they will have abetted the demise of “free lunch” governance. They are of the ilk that decries the deficit while resisting the necessary (and inevitable) reductions in “entitlements.”


Net unpopularity is measured as the percentage of likely voters who strongly approve of BO, minus the percentage of likely voters who strongly disapprove of BO. The approval and disapproval statistics are derived from Rasmussen Reports’ Daily Presidential Tracking Poll. There is a gap in the 7-day trend because no poll was released on May 9. I use Rasmussen’s polling results because Rasmussen has a good track record with respect to presidential-election polling. The following graphs are derived from the same source.

One Week Hence . . .

The outlook for November 2, as of today (UPDATED 10/31/10):

  • (Not updated since 10/26/10.) Based on current Intrade odds on individual Senate races, it looks like the GOP will gain seats in Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, North Dakota, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. This will cut the Democrat majority in the Senate from 59-41 to 51-49, thus enabling the GOP to block legislation despite the lingering presence of a few RINOs.
  • (Updated 10/31/10.) Over in the House, it looks like the GOP will gain about 60 seats, to re-take the House with a majority of 33 seats (234-201) to 35 seats (235-200). (Only the latter projection has been updated since 10/26/10.)
  • (Added 10/30/10; revised 10/31/10.) The well-timed discovery of a terrorist plot, combined with the “Sanity” rallies, may have helped to push some independent voters away from the GOP. Obama’s unpopularity index (as reported by Rasmussen) has improved by 6 percentage points in two days, from -19 to -17 to -13. Today’s  4-point swing is outside the normal range of day-to-day changes in the index.

My forecast of Republican gains in the House is based on two indicators. The first is Scott Rasmussen’s generic congressional ballot, which has been polled weekly since January 11, 2009. The data points in the graph below represent the results of the poll, to date. Although the GOP enjoys a lead of 9 percentage points in the latest poll (10/24/10), my analysis indicates that there will be a slight reversal of GOP gains as more noncommittal voters choose sides. The solid black line, which is fitted to the data points, shows that the downward trend has begun. A separate statistical analysis yields the dashed black line, which indicates a GOP lead of 6.5 percentage points (a 234-201 majority) when the polls close on November 2.

The second indicator of GOP prospects in the House is the degree of Obama’s unpopularity. The following graph depicts the relationship between Obama’s net unpopularity (percentage strongly disapproving less percentage strongly approving) and the number of percentage points by which votes cast for GOP House candidates will exceed votes cast for Democrat candidates.

This graph is derived from the results of Rasmussen’s generic congressional ballot and presidential tracking poll. The points on the graph represent the weekly results of the two Rasmussen polls for January 8, 2009, through October 24, 2010. The equation in the graph indicates that if Obama’s unpopularity index stays at its current level of -13 percentage points, GOP candidates for House seats will outpoll their Democrat opponents by6.7 percentage points on election day. That translates into a majority of 235-200.

(Added 10/31/10.) As I said in “Two Weeks Hence“:

All of this assumes no major shocks between now and election day — nothing on the order of a terror attack, a specific terror threat, a scandal involving a major political figure, and so on.

Two Weeks Hence . . .

This post combines and updates the analyses and forecasts I presented in “Three Weeks Hence . . .” and “Another Election Indicator.”

As of today (UPDATED 10/23/10):

  • The GOP will gain 8 Senate seats, leaving the Democrats with a 51-49 majority in the Senate. (This estimate is based on the Intrade odds on individual Senate races.)
  • Over in the House, it looks like the GOP will re-take the House, with a majority ranging from 25 seats (230-205) to 33 seats (234-201) 53 seats (244-191).

My forecast of Republican gains in the House is based on two indicators. The first is Scott Rasmussen’s generic congressional ballot, which has been polled weekly since January 11, 2009. The data points in the graph below represent the results of the poll, to date. Although the GOP enjoys a lead of 9 percentage points in the latest poll, my analysis indicates that there will be a slight reversal of GOP gains as more noncommittal voters choose sides. The solid black line, which is fitted to the data points, shows that the downward trend has begun. A separate statistical analysis yields the dashed black line, which points to a GOP lead of 6.7 percentage points (a 234-201 majority) when the polls close on November 2.

The second indicator of GOP prospects in the House is Obama’s degree of unpopularity. The following graph depicts the relationship between Obama’s net unpopularity (percentage strongly disapproving less percentage strongly approving) and the number of percentage points by which votes cast for GOP House candidates will exceed votes cast for Democrat candidates.

This graph is derived from the results of Rasmussen’s generic congressional ballot and presidential tracking poll. The points on the graph represent the weekly results of the two Rasmussen polls for January 8, 2009, through October 17, 2010. If Obama’s unpopularity index stays at its current level of -10 -19 percentage points, the equation for the regression line in the graph yields a GOP advantage of 5.5 9.0 percentage points in the popular vote for House candidates. That translates into a majority of 230-205 244-191.

All of this assumes no major shocks between now and election day — nothing on the order of a terror attack, a specific terror threat, a scandal involving a major political figure, and so on.

Another Election Indicator

The GOP’s prospects for re-taking the House of Representatives track nicely with the course of Obama’s unpopularity. The following graph depicts the relationship between Obama’s net unpopularity (percentage strongly disapproving less percentage strongly approving) and the number of percentage points by which votes cast for GOP House candidates will exceed votes cast for Democrat candidates.


Derived from the results of Rasmussen’s generic congressional ballot and presidential tracking poll.

The points on the graph represent weekly results of the two Rasmussen polls from January 8, 2009, through October 10, 2010. I will update the graph following the release of congressional ballot results for October 17, 24, and 31.

Obama’s current unpopularity rating is -14 percentage points. If it stays around that level, the GOP will do as well as I forecast in “Three Weeks Hence“: a 37-seat majority in the House. Even if Obama enjoys a sudden resurgence to -10 — which is his standing when his “base” flocks to him — the GOP will enjoy a 5 percentage point advantage in the popular vote for House candidates. That translates into a 21-seat majority.

All of this assumes no major shocks between now and election day — nothing on the order of a terror attack, a specific terror threat, a scandal involving a major political figure, and so on.

The Mood of the Country

UPDATED 09/25/10

From the morning of January 21, 2009, through this morning, Obama’s net popularity rating has dropped from +28 to -13 (according to Rasmussen Reports). That’s an average daily decline of 0.07 rating points. But how Obama’s rating fares on a given day depends, in part, on the day of the week; thus:

As the week wears on, the likely voters polled by Rasmussen become less satisfied — or more dissatisfied — with Obama’s performance in office. Irascibility peaks on Saturday, then begins to recede on Sunday. Blue Monday, oddly enough, is Obama’s best day in the eyes of Rasmussen’s survey group. Conversely, the first day of the weekend — a day eagerly anticipated by most working persons — is Obama’s worst day. Go figure.

UPDATE: Saturday continues to be Obama’s blue polling day. With today’s 2-point drop, Saturday’s average change is now -0.54.

Obama’s Short-Lived “Peace Dividend”

UPDATED 09/05/10

On August 31, BHO declared an end to U.S. combat operations in Iraq. In anticipation of that declaration, and for a few days following it, BHO enjoyed what (for him) is a surge in popularity. His approval index (per Rasmussen Reports) went from -20 on August 25 to -12 on August 28. It dropped to -14 on August 31, but returned to -12 on September 1 (the morning after BHO’s declaration). It has been all downhill since: -13 on September 2, -16 on September 3, -21 on September 4, -23 on September 5.

Our boy president has recorded an unpopularity rating of -20 or lower only33 times in the 579 polling days that began with his inauguration. Nine of those low marks (more than a fourth of them) have come in the most recent 10 weeks of BHO’s 85 weeks in office.

In fact, Obama has earned a zero or positive rating 27 percent of the time; a negative rating, 73 percent of the time. More than half of his ratings have been -10 and lower. His last zero or positive rating came on June 29, 2009 — 62 weeks ago. That shouldn’t be surprising, given that he peaked two days after his inauguration. It has been mostly downhill and in a negative trough since then. Obama’s 28-day average rating hit -10 on November 7, 2009, and has stayed below -10 (usually well below) for the past 10 months.

It seems that BHO will have to keep looking for a way to become popular. Resignation might do the trick.