I'm not a huge believer in complete accuracy of polls, but I do believe they show trends. The most recent polls cited from the WSJ suggest a slip in numbers for the President. Everyone knew that, eventually, the "honeymoon" would be over and his numbers would come down. History has shown this always happens. This time period perhaps is hyper accelerated given his attempts to open the White House AND given the type of news age we live in..we get to see everything he is doing or what news 'experts' speculate he will do. Plus in five months, he has been forced to make unprecedented decisions that inevitably some would disagree with.
Before I push the panic button, I should say that his numbers are still very good..with job approval ratings still over 60% in some polls and more than three quarters of people saying they "like" the President. In addition to the President's popularity the Democrats now have significant majorities in the House and Senate. This is a perfect recipe for getting things done. But, I'm becoming increasingly worried from what I'm seeing. ALL Democrats must realize they NEED to have a popular President..this is not a luxury, this is a necessity. Why am I worried?
THE MEDIA: I don't even need to address guys like Rush Limbaugh or any of those other radio wackjobs. People know who they are and they can say anything they want. To some, that is all the news they get and frankly, that is scary. People that listen to those people will hate Obama regardless what he does(yes, I do mean hate). On more 'mainstream' TV, as it stands now there is a "news" channel in Fox News that is dedicated to ripping the President down for everything he does. It doesn't matter what he says or does, they will take the opposite stance and pound home their talking points (socialism, weakness of national security, socialism, weakness on national security blah, blah). With the rhetoric spewed on Fox, followers follow what they say and, much of this leads to absolute disdain for Obama..not disagreement, but outright disdain. Often those people will be yelling the loudest. MSNBC, on the other hand, has generally been in support of the President, been critical at times, but has shown overall support. Recently, however, it seems that MSNBC has gotten away from general support of the President and been focused on being a cynic. Perhaps they don't want to appear like a cheerleader for the President, who knows. There seems to be a shift that (even with the mountain of decisions Obama has been faced with) focuses on what he hasn't done in his first 5 months. Evidently, somehow Obama should be addressing ALL issues in his first eighth of his Presidency despite everything that has gone on in the economy and abroad. In all, there is a complete imbalance of anti-Obama and pro-Obama media. The GOP will keep spouting about the "liberal media" (even though it is stacked in the other direction) and democrats and other supportive media feed right into it. When Bush was President, Fox News and others stood behind him. Unfortunately for Obama, he does not have that same support.
FEAR: The GOP is an expert at using fear as a political weapon. It happened with the Iraq war and now they've created all sorts of 'boogeymen' to be scared of. You have the good ole' "socialism" boogeyman: even though President Bush is the one who initially signed the $787 billion stimulus (with absolutely zero oversight by the way) plan, Obama is the one who is socializing the private markets. Obama then regulates, which should've been done in the first place, what happens to the both stimulus money and "bailout" money so he can assure it is being used what it is supposed to be used for, and he is a socialist. He saves hundreds of thousands of jobs with GM and Chrysler and he is a socialist. You have the "deficit" boogeyman: Somehow, President Bush racked up the worst deficits in our country's history and NOW, they are worried about the deficit. Bush's deficits give us NOTHING to show for it, whereas Obama's investments are for tangible things our country needs..somehow they're melded together without anyone pointing out the difference. Then of course, you have the "National Defense" boogeyman. Obama talks to other countries and grants them respect, and he is "making the country less safe". When said over and over and over, it is bound to sink in to some people. People start regurgitating this nonsense and don't even know what it means. By comparison, Democrats have done a very poor job of using 'fear'. People should be made aware of what COULD HAVE happened if some of these banks (no matter how immoral they may be) failed, they need to be made aware of what COULD HAVE happened if GM and Chrysler liquidated, they need to know what COULD happen if we continue down the same 'screw everyone else' political platform the Bush/Cheney Administration used. We live in a very cynical society and people don't always respond to reason, they respond to what COULD BE the worst.
POLITICAL SYSTEM: Though Obama has had some monumental legislation passed, often it is with concessions to members of his own party. That, in and of itself, may not be a terrible thing. However, it appears he has had to scrap and claw, not just against the Republicans who are united against Obama (we kind of had a feeling that may happen) but against some in his own party as well. The Health Care Reform bill is the latest and largest example..despite overwhelming public demand for a public option, many members of his own party are fighting against it. These Democrats are putting Obama between a 'rock and a hard place': if they pass a 'reform' bill without the public option, it'll be viewed as Obama feeding into big industry and health insurance companies, if he doesn't endorse a reform bill that excludes the public plan, he'll be viewed as the President who vetoed health care reform. Nice job Democrats(sarcasm heavily intended)!
IMPATIENCE: All of these things combined, plus given the fact that I think many people have really short memories could spell disaster for the Democrats. The Bush/Cheney Administration completely screwed up the country on so many different levels and is directly responsible for the state we're in now, but their "approval" numbers are going up?!? Why..because people live in the here and now and often their viewpoints will be affected by what they see and hear the day before. A rational person would concede that it is completely unreasonable to expect a complete financial meltdown and disastrous foreign policy be completely turned around in 5 months. Unfortunately, many members of the media and unfortunately some Democrats forget that.
As much as it pains me to say this, the Democrats need to learn a little something from the Republicans. Be united and stand behind your President. Work WITH him and on occasion, you may have to put your own ideologies aside. YOU NEED OBAMA to succeed. The Republicans are extremely weak and continue to show their weakness (yesterday's 'health reform' proposal was yet another example) and have no new ideas. You'd think the Democrats would sense this and use that to get things done. If they don't unite and make a large push nationwide, we don't have a prayer of passing the legislation the country needs in health care, energy, or education.