As you may know, I post at http://www.ephblog.com/ with a great deal of frequency. EphBlog is edited by a William College alumnus, Dick Swart '57 of Portland, OR. This steamy blog site has true blue liberal contributors, but has no official connection with Williams College. Nevertheless, I like to post there to remember the good things I liked about my first two years as a young assistant professor in the political science department at Williams College. It was a pleasure, for example, to teach in a classroom filled with some of the brightest young people in American in the late 1980s.
One of my debates at that site seems important enough to recycle in Anonymous Political Scientist. As a political scientist, I think a bright moon is associated with some dim prospects for Obama's second term. I'd like to explain why I think that way as briefly as possible.
First, it is silly to suggest - as one of the folk at Ephblog did - that Obama is doing okay right now simply because he out polls Congress. For better or worse, the ratings of Congress are almost always lower than the ratings of the President. See, http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/behind-the-numbers/post/no-contest-president-vs-congress/2010/12/20/ABelgvF_blog.html The public’s strong desire to elect generic Republicans over generic Democrats shows how damaged the Democrat party brand is after two years of Obama’s incompetence. It is a much better measure of the problems facing Obama than his relative popularity compared to Congress.
Second, one of the most immediate pieces of evidence that Obama is in trouble with the voters is dramatic shift in the generic congressional numbers as reported by Rasmussen. According to Rasmussen Reports, Republicans have a nine-point lead over Democrats on the generic congressional ballot. I think this number is significant because Rasmussen Reports limits its results to likely voters. By their numbers, an impressive 46% of likely voters responded by saying they would vote for their district’s Republican congressional candidate. Only 37% of these likely voters said they would pick the Democrat. "The gap is three points larger than it has been for the past two weeks," said Rasmussen Reports.
I find more bad news for Obama in Rasmussen's report on the public's lack of confidence in Obama's skills relative to turning around the economy. See, http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/obama_administration/march_2011/just_31_now_give_obama_positive_marks_for_the_economy
The positive ratings for Obama on the economy are now at the lowest level they have ever been at since Obama took office in January 2009. As a political scientist, I know the economy is the most important issue deciding presidential campaigns. That’s why I think that polling result is so significant…no matter where it comes from.
Personally, I think Obama made a huge political mistake when he took out time on television to announce his basketball picks instead of paying attention to the serious issues surrounding Japan and Libya. As far as I'm concerned, Obama’s decision to call massive public attention to his basketball picks is as politically tone deaf as his defense of the GZM during the height of the mid-term elections. All in all, it looks to me like voters are making up their minds and they are not pleased with the direction our country is going under Obama's leadership.
John C. Drew, Ph.D. is an award-winning political scientist.