[Marxism] They must not be watching MSNBC

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Mar 12 17:33:08 MDT 2012

NY Times March 12, 2012
Obama Approval Rating Shows Serious Slip in New Poll

Despite improving job growth and an extended Republican primary fight 
dividing his would-be opponents, President Obama is heading into the 
general election season on treacherous political ground, according to 
the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

At a time of rising gas prices, heightened talk of war with Iran and 
setbacks in Afghanistan, Mr. Obama’s approval rating dropped 
substantially in recent weeks, the poll found, with 41 percent of 
respondents expressing approval of the job he is doing and 47 percent 
saying they disapprove — a dangerous position for any incumbent seeking 

The poll provides a statistical reminder of how unsettled and 
unpredictable this year’s political landscape remains. Just one month 
ago, Mr. Obama reached a critical benchmark by winning approval from 50 
percent of Times/CBS News poll respondents, his re-election prospects 
lifting along with confidence that the nation was finally emerging from 
the aftermath of the Great Recession.

Mr. Obama’s approval numbers measure his performance against 
expectations. But elections are choices between candidates, and on that 
score, he showed greater resilience in the poll.

In a hypothetical matchup against his most likely Republican opponent, 
Mitt Romney, Mr. Obama had a 47 percent to 44 percent advantage, a 
statistical dead heat given the poll’s margin of sampling error of 3 
percentage points. Against Rick Santorum, the president drew 48 percent 
compared with 44 percent. In both cases, the difference between the 
candidates was slightly smaller than it was last month.

In the head-to-head matchups, Mr. Obama also maintained much of the 
advantage he had built in the last year among important constituencies, 
including women, although he lost some support among women over the past 
month, even as the debate raged over birth control insurance coverage.

Americans are still expressing confidence that the economy is staying 
the same or getting better, with those who believe that outnumbering 
those who view the economy as getting worse by nearly three to one. 
(Then again, 75 percent view the nation’s financial picture as “fairly 
bad” or “very bad.”)

Mr. Obama appears to be retaining much of his gains among important 
demographic groups, erasing inroads that Republicans made in 2010, 
especially among women. But his falling approval rating in the last 
month extended to his handling of both the economy and foreign policy, 
the poll found. And his weakening position cut across all major 
demographic groups, even among those with which he has kept an edge over 
his Republican challengers: women, independents, moderates, college 
graduates and younger voters.

Sharp as the drop in Mr. Obama’s approval rating was in the Times/CBS 
News poll, it was not in isolation. The latest ABC News/Washington Post 
poll, released on Monday, also reported a drop in Mr. Obama’s overall 
approval rating, to 46 percent from 50 percent last month. The latest 
tracking poll from Gallup, also released Monday, showed Mr. Obama with 
an approval rating of 49 percent.

Yet, polls capture only a particular moment in time, and can be 
influenced by the way questions are asked or the mix of people who are 
surveyed. In The Times/CBS News poll, the margin of sampling error could 
mean the president’s approval rating is as high as 44 percent or as low 
as 38 percent, at a 95 percent confidence level.

Mr. Obama’s aides have expressed concern for weeks that rising gas and 
fuel prices and outside forces like the turmoil overseas or a spike in 
unemployment could harm his political standing.

The decline in Mr. Obama’s approval rating has occurred as more 
attention has been made to prices at the gas pump and as Republican 
presidential candidates have sometimes tries to connect the price 
increases to the Obama administration’s approach to Iran. They have also 
been highlighting concerns about Iran’s nuclear program.

Mr. Obama’s drop was particularly pronounced among low-income households 
that may be feeling the pinch of the higher gas prices — as well as 
increases in prices for groceries and some retail items — more than others.

Over all, 54 percent of poll respondents believed that a president can 
do a lot to control gas prices, as opposed to 36 percent who believe it 
is beyond a president’s control. Most women said the president could do 
a lot to control the price of gas, while men were more closely divided 
on the question.

“I think just being the president of the United States of America, you 
would have some type of control over gas pricing,” said Jamie Haber, 39, 
an independent voter of Orlando, who voted for Mr. Obama in 2008 but 
says he will not this year. “We’re out here doing everything we can to 
make a living and gas prices keep going up,” he said in a follow-up 

While the Republican candidates for president have for the most part 
been united in their criticism of Mr. Obama over his handling of Iran, 
the public is more or less evenly divided on his approach, the poll 
found, with 42 percent approving and 39 percent disapproving.

The public is similarly split on what the United States should do if 
Israel seeks to force an end to Iran’s nuclear program through a 
military attack. Almost half, or 47 percent, said the United States 
should support such an attack, while 42 percent said it should stay out 
of any conflict. The question broke along partisan lines, with a 
majority of Republicans saying the United States should support Israeli 
military action while Democrats said it should not get involved. 
Independents were split on the matter.

In spite of a considerable dip in approval for Mr. Obama’s handling of 
foreign affairs — to 40 percent from 50 percent a month ago — nearly 58 
percent said they were somewhat or very confident in his ability as 
commander in chief.

That gave him a considerable edge over Mr. Romney and Mr. Santorum; 48 
percent of voters said they were somewhat or very confident in Mr. 
Romney’s ability as commander in chief and 43 percent of voters said the 
same about Mr. Santorum.

Republican voters gave them higher, and roughly equal, marks on the 
question, with 77 percent saying they were somewhat or very confident in 
Mr. Romney as commander in chief and 76 saying so about Mr. Santorum 
(only 34 percent of Republican voters expressed that level of confidence 
in Representative Ron Paul of Texas, compared with 71 percent for Newt 

In the race for the Republican presidential nomination, Mr. Santorum was 
supported by 34 percent of the respondents and Mr. Romney by 30 percent, 
a difference that is within the poll’s margin of sampling error of plus 
or minus 6 percentage points for Republican primary voters. Mr. Gingrich 
was supported by 13 percent and Mr. Paul support dropped to 8 percent.

Allison Kopicki and Marina Stefan contributed reporting.

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