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Mayor Rob Ford now has higher approval ratings than President Obama

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The one thing that Republicans learned in the last election is: ignore the polls at your own peril. Most people, especially Republicans, have learned over the last couple of election cycles to that we should probably just ignore polls. They have been told that most Republicans are at work when these polls are taken, that most people feel guilty, and racist, telling a pollster that they don’t approve of the nation’s first black president, but that when it comes time for them to close the curtains, they’ll vote against him. That all turned out to be wrong in 2012, as we now know well, and Republicans learned a valuable lesson from it.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, it could be said, is the most self-destructive politician the world has seen in some time. He’s admitted to smoking crack, buying crack, drinking and driving, he’s knocked a little old lady down in Toronto’s legislature, and he was caught in a presumed drunken stupor threatening to kill someone on video. He has become such a laughing stock, that Toronto’s city council stripped him of most of his mayoral power. Yet, even with this laundry list of self-destruction, Mayor Rob Ford is currently polling higher than the president of the United States.

Some could say that it's easier to get the approval of the 1,049 people surveyed by Forum Research than it is in a nation of three hundred plus million. Some could say that Torontonians may find Mayor Rob Ford entertaining, and amiable, and that they’re more liberal when it comes to judgment on foibles, drug use, and otherwise unprofessional, destructive behavior. Some could also say that this comparison is entirely unfair, because, the president of the United States is held to a higher standard than any mayor of any city, and that the slightest hiccup can cause Americans to temporarily turn against a president, while a mayor of a city, any city, is defended by loyalists trying to maintain pride in their city. Whatever the case is, the Obama administration should see this fun, or funny, comparison as a barometer requiring action.

Even the most ardent supporter of President Barack Obama would admit that some of the stories that have come out about the administration, since his 2012 re-election, are at least troubling. The administration has seen stories of its IRS attempting to intimidate, and delegitimize, Obama’s opponents in the Tea Party, a questionable role of the administration’s State Department in the attack on the embassy in Benghazi, Libya, troubling questions about its NSA engaging in widespread snooping, a concern regarding some snooping into the discussions of a Fox reporter named James Rosen, and of course the rollout of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) (Obamacare). Are all of these stories as scandalous as those in blogosphere, talk radio, and some quarters of the national media would have you believe? It’s debatable in some cases. What we do know is that a narrative is being built for this administration that has led it to being less popular than the most destructive politician the world has seen in some time.

The president’s job approval rating released over the past three weeks, ending on Wednesday, November 20, 2103, show him polling as low as 37% in a CBS survey, and as stated by CNN it is as high in numerous other polls as between 40% and 42%{1}

The drop in Obama's approval rating comes entirely among suburbanites,” said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. “Compared to the October CNN poll, positive views of Obama held steady among people who live in big cities and rural areas. But in the suburbs, his approval rating was 45% a month ago but has dropped to just 37% now.”

A poll released on November 22, 2013 Toronto May Rob Ford has the approval of 42 percent of 1,049 Toronto voters surveyed by Forum Research.{2}

It's a fun comparison, but not an apt one,” Tobe Berkovitz, an associate professor of advertising at Boston University, told Newsmax. “It's a contrast that does a disservice to the level of popularity of Barack Obama,” he added. “It's basically saying that a clown hasn't fallen as low in public opinion polls as the president of the United States.”

Studies on polling dictate that most people are conformists, and that they will give a pollster an opinion that they believe the pollster wants to hear, that makes the person being polled appear intelligent, informed, and compassionate to the pollster. For this reason, among others, some politicians ignore polls. Some believe that all polls are relatively temporary, and that with the fickle nature of the American public, it doesn’t take much to get poll numbers back up. Others state that a politician, in our Republic, is a representative, and that the people elected him to represent them based upon a general listing of the politician's views, with the understanding that that politician is not going to change his opinions based on temporary polls.

With that in mind, Tobe Berkowitz stated that the rollout of Obamacare is at the heart of the low approval ratings. The conclusion that the reader of Berkowitz's statement is left with is that once Obamacare, and the Healthcare.gov website, are fixed those approval ratings will go right back where they belong. Possibly, those of us on the outside are forced to admit, but if this ineffective rollout hadn’t been preceded by all those stories/scandals listed above, would the American public have given him low poll numbers in the first place?

If those prior stories hadn’t littered the news, and begun to illustrate something of a narrative for this administration, many of us believe Obama could’ve played the role of the victim in the negative news Obamacare is receiving, and he probably would’ve gotten away with it. He could’ve said, I’m just the figurehead, and I know nothing about building websites. He could’ve said, I thought we hired the right tech guys for the job. He could’ve said, we’ve talked to them, and this will get fixed. He could’ve rightly said that any that have paid attention to his modus operandi would tell you that I'm a delegator, and I can’t possibly hope to control a body of people as large as the federal government. He could tell you that most of the blame for the ineffective rollout is the fault of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sibelius. If he did that, however, he would have to lay the blame for Fast and Furious, and the James Rosen scandal, at attorney general Eric Holder’s feet, the IRS scandal at IRS official Lois Lerner’s feet, and the NSA scandal at the feet of General Keith Alexander. If Obama started down that road, he would also have to answer for the fact that most of those apparently inept, incompetent, and possibly corrupts officials were appointed by him. If he started down that road, and claimed he was simply a figurehead, he would leave the impression that he is leading a chaotic administration of his own making.

Anytime you speak of polling, you have to account for the fact that Americans are volatile, high-minded, low-minded, fickle, and forgiving. What appears to be an outright catastrophe one month, can appear glowing and rosy the next. Americans love to tear down authority, celebrity, and any high-profile figure, until they feel more comfortable with them. After that tear-down is complete, Americans often take a step back from the story, re-evaluate, and turn forgiving, and reach a point where they’re cheering on the resultant “comeback kid” story.

As Berkowitz says:

You’d be a fool to “think that there's not chance that Obama is going to recover — that he's down and out,” Berkovitz cautioned. “The real question is, if he recovers, when, and will it be before the 2014 congressional elections?”

If Obamacare is “at the heart of Obama’s low approval ratings” as Berkowitz suggests, will moving it back until after the 2014 mid-term elections prove to lift Obama’s approval ratings, and thus the chances of Democrats in 2014? Will taking Obamacare off the table as an issue in the 2014 mid-term, delete it as an issue, or will it only give power to the speculation of its failings?

Most politicians would tell you that the speculation of pain is often far more powerful than the realization of it. Particularly, they would tell you, when that speculation is directed at the pocketbook, and the speculative loss of financial freedom? This speculation, if the Republicans engage in it, will also be founded in the number of stories we’ve already heard of people that have lost their insurance policies, the premium and deductible increases, and the number of stories of doctors opting out. How much more speculation can be drummed up by individual politicians telling old people that young people won’t be signing up for Obamacare, and thus paying for their healthcare? How much more speculation can be drummed up on Obamacare’s effect on the debt, the future of young Americans, and the effects Obamacare might have on America’s future overall? As opposed to what most politicians in Washington may be thinking, it might actually work out better for Democrats if the pain of Obamacare is fully implemented, and the pain is fully inflicted on them, and the nation, than the speculation that can be drummed up about it.

At this point, Obama has done everything he could to minimize the pain Obamacare could have on Democrats, he’s delayed the Act, given waivers for it, redefined it, attempted to meet with members of the media to have them help in the rebranding of it, attempted to demonize dissenters and insurance companies that speak out against it, and anything and everything but fix it with any true resolve. It may be fun to compare Obama’s current poll numbers to one of the most self-destructive politicians the world has known in some time, as Tobe Berkowitz says, but it should also be a big red beacon in the night for the administration to heed. Republicans didn’t heed such warnings in 2012, and they learned that some of the times the tide rolling back in isn’t as regular as it is in nature. Some of the times, the tide doesn’t come back, until it’s much too late.

{1} http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2013/11/21/obama-approval-rating-sinks-to-new-low-in-cnn-poll/
{2}http://www.newsmax.com/Headline/rob-ford-popularity-obama/2013/11/22/id/538242?ns_mail_uid=1178554&ns_mail_job=1547292_11232013&promo_code=15B64-1#ixzz2lUMHI7bX

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