Tuesday, September 20, 2011

What's the answer to Obama's poor polling? Move further left

Americans support progressive policies of president, want him to challenge the GOP

Political strategist James Carville said last week that President Barack Obama needs to start getting into "panic" mode when it comes to his re-election bid next year.

Carville is wrong -- the president need not panic. He simply needs to be more bold, act as the progressive candidate Americans elected in 2008.

I've pointed this out in the past, and it stands to reason that it's still true: Obama's polling numbers aren't dismal because he's too liberal, but rather because he's not liberal enough.

There's proof of this in the latest polling data available to us. The CBS/New York Times poll released just last week shows that President Obama has the lowest approval rating he's ever received from that poll -- just 43 percent of Americans approve of his job performance, while 50 percent disapprove.

But that doesn't mean that Americans are turning to conservatism to fix the country. Only 19 percent of Americans approve of the job performance of Republicans in Congress. What's more, the major initiatives that Obama has been pushing in the past week -- namely increases in tax rates for the wealthiest of Americans -- receive strong support as well.

In fact, a poll last month (PDF) shows that a plurality of Americans don't consider Obama "too liberal" at all. 48 percent of Americans don't feel Obama is too liberal or too conservative. Only 36 percent felt he was too far to the left.

In that same poll 42 percent of Americans felt that Democrats in Congress were too liberal. But a larger number, 48 percent of Americans, felt that Congressional Democrats were either "on the mark" (36 percent) or "too conservative" (12 percent).

What does this all mean? We need to look into what's driving Obama's approval numbers, or rather what's driving them down. If the president wants more Americans to approve of him, he needs to move more to the left, not to the right. And if he's to win in 2012, he needs to distance himself from Republican priorities -- in short, he needs to stop placating the GOP and start working with Americans' interests at heart.

More Americans, in fact, want him to challenge Republicans than to work with them. That is perhaps the most important stat to take away from this poll.

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