In a guest post, David Johnson of Strategic Vision says polls showing a steady decline in President Obama's approval rating are a warning sign for Democrats.
Most polls that are coming out at this point I would expect to be very bad for the President and the Democratic Party. This is due to the fact that August has been a horrible month for the Democrats with town hall meetings and uneasiness on health care particularly among independent voters. Part of this has been fueled by the fact that Speaker Pelosi and others who are highly polarizing have been seen leading the health care debate rather than the President. Adding to the bad news is the unemployment numbers in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan that are causing many voters in those states to sour on the Democratic Party.
The key polls to watch will be those after Congress returns back to session and the President addresses the nation on health care. If after he takes the an active part in the fight, the numbers do not move in the polls then he is in serious trouble. Remember, traditionally after a President addresses the nation on an issue we see between a 5% to 10% increase in support. The polls that will be most telling will be support for health care, the President's approval numbers, and generic party support after the president becomes engaged. Current polls, while serious, are more a warning sign that they need to turn it around. If at the end of September, we see similar numbers as are coming out now, then there should be panic among Democrats.
Update: A Political Wire reader emails to say that a systematic study of whether presidential speeches have an impact on poll numbers is reported in the book, On Deaf Ears, and finds shows that in general, major presidential speeches do not lead to a significant shift even in short-term polls.
Taegan D. Goddard is the founder of Political Wire, one of the earliest and most influential political web sites.
Goddard spent more than a decade as managing director and chief operating officer of a prominent investment firm in New York City. Previously, he was a policy adviser to a U.S. Senator and Governor.
Goddard is also co-author of You
Won - Now What? (Scribner, 1998), a political
management book hailed by prominent journalists and politicians from
both parties. In addition, Goddard's essays on politics and public
policy have appeared in dozens of newspapers across the country,
including the Washington Post, USA Today, Boston Globe, San Francisco
Chronicle, Chicago Tribune, Philadelphia Inquirer and Christian Science
Goddard earned degrees from Vassar College and Harvard University. He lives in New York with his wife and three sons.
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