Obama Approval Rating Hits New Low: The Cost Of Winning

Alex Moore :: Wednesday, July 21st, 2010 11:15 am

The Washington Post today reports that this month marks the one year anniversary of Barack Obama’s decline in approval ratings. The Post reports, “In the [last] 12 months, he has had legislative victories that appear – especially in the case of health care – to have cost him large amounts of both political capital and political support.”

I can’t help but scratch my head at the notion that legislative victories have cost the president support. Those likeliest to support him in 2008 were supporting a reform candidate. The man ran on a platform of change. The two big legislative victories of the last year, health care reform and financial reform, all about change—that’s why they’re called “reform.” Wtf?

Is it that he has not changed enough? The president has threaded, pursuing politics as “the art of the possible,” but in doing so has alienated both people who think he’s doing too much and people who think he’s not doing enough.

Proponents of real health care reform wanted universal, government-supplied health care for all citizens. Opponents wanted a fully free-market system with no government involvement—as one Tea Party protestor put it, “get your government hands off my Medicare.” It could be that in getting a compromised version passed, Obama alienated an electorate that is increasingly unwilling to compromise.

A similar problem may be hurting the president on financial reform. A bill that accomplishes a compromised vision of reform ultimately infuriates both de-regulation hawks and those advocating a real, substantive reigning in of the banks’ power.

The Post demographic data on approval ratings is somewhat confusing, listing “Republicans” and “whites” as two different demographic groups. One would think there a serious overlap in those two groups.

Still, the overall approval rating of all registered voters clocks in at 44%. Between the fervid Tea Party vigilantes packing guns to protest rallies, and stubborn lefties who wanted a $2B bailout package and Guantanamo closed immediately and unequivocally, Obama might be the only one left who’s willing to compromise.

And compromise, apparently, is not what the electorate wants.