Obamacare Unpopularity And Predicting 2014
As far as the electoral effects of Obama’s approval rating, surely any effect was long ago baked into this election. Indeed, it’s not clear that the bungled rollout of the ACA in October had any effect on Obama’s approval ratings. According to the polling average at Huffington Pollster, the president lost ground from his second inauguration up through mid-November, when his approval flattened out. At least, maybe. Look at the trend line that’s more sensitive to short-term changes (the “less smoothing” option), and it appears that Obama suffered accelerated losses for about five weeks ending in mid-November; since then, his approval has actually been recovering. And since October was also the month of the government shutdown and debt-limit scare, there’s really no way of disentangling what exactly hurt presidential approval at that point.
Kraushaar, however, assumes a hard link between what people say about an issue in a poll and how they make their vote choice. He also makes the classic mistake of hyping a special election; the press has done a pretty good job so far of refraining from claims that the upcoming election in Florida’s 13th congressional district will tell us anything about November 2014, but alas, Kraushaar goes all-in on the hype. And while early in his column he says that the difference between 2012 and 2014 is the facts, rather than the “quality of the messaging,” by the end of the column he winds up talking about the quality of the ads.
The truth about 2014 is that Republicans will likely do well in Senate races because they have excellent opportunities — Democrats are defending several seats in good Republican states, and midterm elections usually go against the incumbent party. The other important factor will be whether Obama continues to be mildly unpopular or if his approval ratings take a sharp turn in one direction or another. If that happens, however, the reasons will most likely have little to do with health care.
(Jonathan Bernstein covers U.S. politics for Bloomberg View. He is co-editor of The Making of the Presidential Candidates 2012. Follow him on Twitter at @JBPlainblog)
Photo: Speaker Boehner via Flickr