What Obama’s Approval Numbers Tell Us About Where We’re Headed
Yes, Obama’s approval numbers are extremely high right now…
Well, sure, but when looked at in historical context they provide an interesting glimpse into what he can get done in the near term. Especially when compared to Reagan in 1980.
Reagan won considerably more electoral votes in 1980 than Obama did in 2008. As measured in percentage terms, his margin of victory over Jimmy Carter was larger than that of Obama over John McCain. On the other hand, Obama won a lot more popular votes than Reagan did. He also won a higher percentage of the popular vote, and his margin of victory was larger than Reagan’s in absolute (rather than percentage) terms.
The Republicans made greater gains in both the Senate and the House in 1980 than the Democrats did in 2008. On the other hand, the Republicans were starting from a much lower baseline, and if one considers the previous midterm to be part of the same political cycle, the Democrats gained more seats in each chamber over 2006/08 than the Republicans did over 1978/80. The bottom line, perhaps, is that Obama’s party controls considerably more seats in both chambers of Congress than Reagan’s did in 1980 — indeed, Republicans were still a considerable minority in the House in 1980.
And now we have these Gallup approval ratings showing Obama regarded quite a bit more favorably than Reagan was at the start of his term. So in comparison to Reagan, Obama comes out looking pretty good.
Basically, If Reagan had the will to reshape the direction of the country after his win against Carter, one has to believe that there’s similar support behind Obama this year.
However, I don’t think Republicans and Libertarians really understand this yet. Because they continue to argue that this is a center-right country.
Well, apparently they haven’t been looking at the party ID numbers recently…
With Democrats and Independents sharing an equal 36%/36% of the electorate right now, it’s pretty obvious that we’re a center left nation. And given that Indy approval is usually the average, that means that they’re most likely approving of Obama’s plans by at least 60% and probably closer to the 68% Gallup shows.
Obviously this doesn’t mean that Obama should treat this like a “I’m going to do this whether you like it or not” mandate, especially if he wants to achieve some of his “post-partisan” goals, but Republicans should be extremely careful about being more than the party of “no” because it seems like the political will is definitely on Obama’s side.