President Obama’s poll numbers have been on the rise of late, though his overall approval rating remains dismal, a few points below the 50 percent mark.
Gallup Monday had him at 47 percent, breaking out in recent days from the low 40s – where he had been hovering for weeks – and putting him about ten points above the all-time lows he was recording in October. For the first time in months, more people approve of Obama’s performance than disapprove, with 45 percent registering disapproval.
The RealClearPolitics average of various Obama approval ratings also puts him at 47 percent, with a 48 percent disapproval rating.
The proximate cause of Obama’s rise is likely his victory over House Speaker John Boehner, who was forced by Obama into headlong retreat from his position on the payroll tax cut.
Boehner, demonstrating yet again his lack of understanding of his own caucus, had signalled to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) that the House would agree to a two month extension of the payroll tax cut. So McConnell struck a deal, the Senate passed the bill, and then House conservatives informed Bohner that he was badly mistaken.
So the tail wagged the dog, which then said to Obama, “A one year extension or nothing.” To which Obama said, “You’ll take two months and like it.” To which Boehner said, “Gulp. Okay.”
Obama’s improved numbers are also probably the result of the decline in the unemployment rate to 8.6 percent, even though the decline is partially due to people giving up work. What’s more, many economists do not see the unemployment rate decline as a harbinger of an improving economy.
And Obama of course has been aggressively maximizing his political gain from Bush’s victory in the Iraq war, even though Obama’s decision to completely withdraw of troops from Iraq is a bad mistake that is already causing disarray in the country and will haunt Obama’s reelection.
As the Obama campaign surely knows, the rise in the president’s polls is background noise – political elevator Muzak. Everyone understands that, whether Obama is at 38 percent or48 percent, the country is in for a close, bitter election campaign that will be impossible to predict, possibly right up until Election Day.