Advancing a Free Society

State of Play

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Two statewide California polls published this week tell us much about the current fortunes of President Obama – and the Republicans who aim to take his place.

First, there’s this Field Poll which gives the President a mere 46% job-approval rating – “mere” seeming an appropriate choice of words given that Obama stood as high as 65% during his earlier days in office and enjoyed a 54% positive as recently as three months ago.

The flip side: Obama’s presidential disapproval. It’s now at 44% in California, up from 37% three months ago.

Now the Republican chase squadron . . .

Field has former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney at 28%, followed by Texas Gov. Rick Perry at 20%. Three months ago, Romney stood at 30%, with an 18-point lead over the rest of the field. Perry, then flirting with the idea of running, polled at only 6%.

So what do these numbers tell us?

  1. Blue Flu Spreads to California. One thing to know about the Golden State: its pro-Obama numbers usually run about 10 points higher than the rest of the country. Field’s sampling suggests California’s finally joined the party – frustrated with Obama; dismayed that the economy’s stalled, if not headed for a double-dip recession.
  2. Two-Horse Race. Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachman raised money in the Bay Areaearlier today; she’ll also speak at this weekend’s GOP state party convention in Los Angeles. But numerically, in California as elsewhere, she’s eating the frontrunners’ dust and (and scrambling for money, attention and ways to keep the media from writing her off) – a huge difference from earlier this summer when she was the GOP “it girl”.
  3. More Doubt, Less Benefit of the Doubt. Independents decide the presidency – and California’s no different from other states (Virginia being a good example) in that non-affiliated voters are turning on this president. The latest Field Poll has Obama at 45% among “nonpartisans” – down 13 points from three months ago. Ouch.
  4. Wrong-Track Nation. In 2008, 75% of Californians believed the nation was on the wrong track.  Enter Obama and a change in Californians’ attitudes: “wrong track” receding to 55%. But in last week’s USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll, “wrong track” was back up to 75%. Further trouble for Team Obama: only three in eight Californians in that same survey favor government investment to jump-start the economy.
  5. Carteresque, but not Necessarily Carter (Not Yet, At Least). The saving grace for Obama in these dreadful numbers: Californians don’t personally dislike him. Field puts his personal-image approval at 55%.  The good news: if the re-elect thing doesn’t work out, Obama can always cash in with California venture capitalists, as did another Democrat who lost a national election. That’s because, if indeed California’s number run 10 points hotter than the rest of the nation, Obama’s more than the next Al Gore in waiting – he’s also the next Jimmy Carter.
(photo credit: BANAMINE)