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Nyhan: The End of the Obama Honeymoon


Today's guest pollster contribution comes from Brendan Nyhan, a political scientist and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Scholar in Health Policy Research at the University of Michigan. This entry is cross-posted at his blog, Brendan-Nyhan.com.

Just to briefly elaborate on the point I made last week, here are comparable plots of President Obama's overall job approval and approval of his handling of health care:



As you can see, what's happening on health care is a leading indicator of the end of Obama's honeymoon period. As we return to our normal, highly polarized political climate, most Republicans and Republican-leaning independents will disapprove of a Democratic president's performance in office and his handling of high-salience issues, especially in a bad economy. As a result, Obama's numbers will inevitably decline across the board -- this reality shouldn't be surprising to anyone who works in or reports on politics.

Going forward, we should focus on more important questions. First, how much will Obama's approval numbers decline? Given the state of the economy, it wouldn't be surprising to see him in the low- to mid-40s by the end of the year. Second, what is the distribution of opinion on Obama's handling of health care? Aggregate public opinion on the issue is less relevant than how it's playing in the states of key senators whose votes will determine the fate of the legislation in Congress.

 

MAP - US, AL, AK, AZ, AR, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, HI, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NV, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, VA, WA, WV, WI, WY, PR