Untangling the Spin: Post-Shutdown Polling

Oct 23, 2013

Mark Pryor is in serious trouble.

According to the 2013 Arkansas Poll, Pryor's approval rating plummeted from 52-percent in 2012 to just 34-percent this year. By comparison, former President George W. Bush's lowest favorable rating, according to Gallup, was 32-percent. Bush's mark came in April 2008 "as the economy was in recession and gas prices were headed toward record highs in the U.S." That's bad, but even more alarming for Pyror, his negatives more than doubled from 21-percent to 44-percent.

Over the next 12 months, Pryor will have to drive down his negatives or win upwards of 70-percent of those who don't currently have an opinion on his job performance. And given the looming specter of Obamacare, for which he provided the decisive 60th vote, that is no small task; especially considering President Obama's approval rating stands at just 29-percent in Arkansas.

Nationally, a new CBS News poll finds President Obama is still underwater:

President Obama's job approval rating stands at 46 percent, but slightly more (49 percent) disapprove.

Most Americans continue to disapprove of how Mr. Obama is handling the economy, the top issue among Americans overall. While 42 percent approve, 52 percent disapprove - similar to last month.

Americans are divided as to whether or not Mr. Obama showed strong qualities of leadership during the recent negotiations over the debt ceiling and government shutdown: 46 percent think he did, while more - 50 percent - think he did not.

Even though Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) much of the mainstream media focus has been on the woes of the Republican Party. According to the CBS News poll, "Overall, both Republicans and Democrats in Congress get low job approval ratings, but Republicans fare worse." Why does the GOP fare worse?

"Democrats in Congress also get more support from members of their own party. Most Democrats (61 percent) approve of how their own congressional delegation is doing its job; 39 percent of Republicans approve of the job congressional Republicans are doing."

The partisan division was also evident on who was to blame for the shutdown, with 71-percent of Republicans blaming the President while 85-percent of Democrats blamed Republicans. Few political observers should be surprised there is a divide within the Republican Party. It was on display during the shutdown, as many Senate Republicans spent more time undermining their colleagues than undermining Obamacare. Meanwhile, Senate Democrats stood in complete solidarity.

The CBS News poll provides a cautionary note for pundits - on the right and the left - looking to place blame solely on the tea party: "Half of Americans still hold no view of the tea party or are unfamiliar with it, even after these high-profile political battles."

And for all the talk about how the public is finally rallying around Obamacare, there is scant evidence:

Overall views of the 2010 health care law are the same as they were when the program launched earlier in October. More Americans disapprove (51 percent) than approve of it (43 percent).

Views continue to be highly partisan: 74 percent of Democrats approve of it, compared to 87 percent of Republicans who disapprove. Fift-five percent of independents disapprove.

CBS News reiterated their poll found Americans expect Obamacare will "lead to increased costs" and that "the quality of their own health care will get worse."

On Real Clear Politics, Sean Trende acknowledged that "people don't like Republican congressional leaders much, but their numbers are comparable to where they were in 2010, a Republican wave year." And much like 2010, next year's mid-term election is poised to be a referendum over Obamacare.

Judging from the number of red-state Democrats clamoring for changes to the heretofore-sacrosanct Obamacare, meaningful action against Obamacare will make for really good politics next November - as good policy frequently does.