Misconceptions of presidential disapproval

Allahpundit jumps on the Obama-approval-ratings-are-dropping bandwagon and, like most conservatives who try to interpret the data, totally misses the point:

More than 60 percent of indies disapprove of his handling of health care and the economy. Meanwhile, the overall 44/51 split is the widest gap yet on ObamaCare and the first time it’s been statistically significant in the WaPo poll [….]

Sixty-three percent support the recently deceased Medicare buy-in. Then again, majorities also consistently say they support the public option even though most of them don’t understand it, so it’s anyone’s guess what that “support” means in practice. Remember: It’s amazing what a follow-up question about trade-offs can do to the numbers when polling on ObamaCare. Which probably explains why one wasn’t asked here.

Somehow this leads Allahpundit to imply that disapproval of Obama’s job performance among independents has led more people to lean Republican, closing the partisan gap.  That doesn’t seem very likely to me.  I think a huge portion of independents who disapprove of Obama’s performance are actually hoping for more progressive reforms and are disappointed with how conservative the healthcare bill has become.  These folks might stay home in November, but they won’t come out to vote Republican.

What we’re seeing here is more wishful thinking on the right, interpreting every sign of disappointment with Obama as an indication of the right’s success.  That is simply wrong-headed.  If 63% of independents support the Medicare buy-in and majorities support a public option, then I’d say it’s fairly unlikely that most indies will come out and vote for the GOP in 2010 or 2012.

Remember, people are naturally inclined to vote for the lesser of two evils, and the Republicans are moving more to the right, not more to the center where a good chunk of independents reside.  Even those indies who “lean right” might be scared away by the prospect of a Sarah Palin nomination.

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16 thoughts on “Misconceptions of presidential disapproval

  1. Dear Mr. Kain,
    Given your recent scurrilous activity regarding Mr. Douglas at American Power (Pace your apology.) can you please explain why anyone should credit your estimation of any other blogger? After all, for a blogger to threaten another blogger’s livelihood even in the most round-about manner is the mark of a poltroon and a scoundrel. It pretty much burns up any credibility you might have. Wouldn’t you agree?

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    • Are you the Vanderleun who recently posted that he spent the weekend in a drunk tank?

      If so, I don’t understand how an alcoholic who cannot control his disease to the point where he cannot stay out of jail could possibly have the stones to question anyone else’s “scurrilous activity”.

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    • Vanderleun,

      I’m pretty sure that dispute is between myself and Mr. Douglas. For the record nobody ever threatened his livelihood as I explained over at Douglas’s blog. I expressed my frustration with his constant insults after one particularly venomous post. I later admitted to having gone too far with that, but never was any threat of livelihood a part of this. Douglas is very open about who he works for. He obviously has no fear of expressing his opinions without anonymity.

      In any case, that’s not really related to this post. The conversation surrounding this can be found at Douglas’s blog.

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  2. How much of a zero-sum game is American politics, really?

    I’m under the impression that, pretty much, it’s as close as we’re going to get to zero-sum in actual practice (maybe we could get rid of the electoral college and get it closer but…) and, as such, the Republicans have three goals:

    1) Get your own guys fired up. Get every single guy from your base to the polls.
    2) Get their own guys depressed. “Why bother voting for Bush-lite? It’d be more principled for me to stay home and do what I can to normalize casual marijuana consumption.”
    3) Get the guys on the fence to either vote for your team or, barring that, stay home and be principled.

    While this may not be working for the Republicans in the whole #1 goal, it could well be working for the Republicans in the whole #2 goal thing.

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      • “supposed”.

        There are a buncha people out there who see themselves as being on the front line of a battle between memes. They may imagine that they write for an audience of 1s and 3s, but, really, they only write for 1s.

        But, maybe, someone who writes for 1s and 3s will link to them.

        Or, maybe, someone who writes for the other side’s 1s will link to them as an example of exactly how evil/wicked those folks on the other side are and, funnily enough, it turns out that it does more to depress the other side’s base than it does to fire them up. (“Can you believe they’re twisting what Kerry meant when he said he voted for it before he voted against it???”)

        In practice, you’re right. Most bloggers of a particular size (well below the size that Allah has achieved) will, eventually, fall on one side or the other of the zero-sum game and post (preach) primarily to people inclined to agree (the choir).

        But somebody who reads them might tell someone else who might tell someone else and, eventually, it might even change the mind of mister fence-sitter… and, to be honest, the folks who write as if they’re talking to folks whose minds *MIGHT* be changed are infinitely more readable (to my eyes) than those who know they’re preaching to solely the choir.

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  3. Polls like the Medicare poll are useless. People answer polls like these based on what they’ve heard, or what they think they ought to say. Plus, the pollsters are biased most of the time, and design polls to get predetermined results.

    Just as independent opposition doesn’t mean Republican support, it’s also questionable to suggest there is a lot of independent support for progressivism. I doubt there are many true progressives who identify as independents.

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  4. ” For the record nobody ever threatened his livelihood as I explained over at Douglas’s blog.”

    Well, with all due respect, Mr. Kain, to telephone a person’s employer to complain about their blogging is, ipso facto, to do just that. Who is to say that in the future your frustration is not to become ungovernable again?

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  5. I’m actually surprised that the League hasn’t blogged more on the ongoing Progressive outrage about the bill without-a-public-option, with numerous progressive (including prominent ones like Howard Dean) now opposing the current bill.

    While I share many progressive concerns about the bill as structured, there seems to be a desire among some on the left that it’s not good enough to greatly extend healthcare to the poor; the bill must also screw the insurance companies. A poster at 538 compared the thing to food stamps–are these a subsidy to agribusiness (another major industry which often engages in flagrant bad behavior), or is this irrelevant? Should we reconfigure the food stamp program to require that only organic foods be bought with the things?

    I say pass the damn bill. If the public option is popular, then campaign on that–point to GOP/conservadem obstructionism on this point, and make it a centerpiece of the Democratic campaign. Far too many progressive seem to be eager to accept and embrace the Rovian framing of the entire debate (which is that if the Dems don’t get the whole enchilada, they’re screwed in 2010). BS, I say.

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