Like a predictable change in the seasons, President Barack Obama's job approval rating dipped again, as it has from June through August during each year of his presidency, Gallup reported Monday.His current average rating for this month is 46 percent, the worst he has averaged in any month of the year. Gallup's report said the president's summer ratings are mostly "characterized by consistent decline," but it also shows that all presidents, dating back to 1945, lose a little steam in the summer months.
Jeffrey M. Jones writes it isn't clear why this apparent pattern occurs, but one possibility is the president is less active in the summer months with Congress out of session for most of August and around the summer holidays. Also, he says, presidents typically go on vacation themselves during the summer. The first family recently vacationed at Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts. The report also noted that Americans may pay less attention to the news and what the president is doing during the summer and may be somewhat more reluctant to say they approve without that information.
But recall, it was just a year ago when Republicans and their presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, thought victory over Obama would be theirs on Election Day. Romney and Republicans lost by a wide margin [52-47%] confounding them as they thought the president's troubles with the Amerian people were too much for him to overcome.
American voters proved them wrong then, and elected the president to a second and final term. Many of the issues a year ago have only ripened with age and the fruit they could bear going forward could bring more misery to the GOP, as one respected political prognosticator says could happen to Republicans over the next 15 months until the midterm elections next year in November.
Charlie Cook, creator and publisher of the eponymous Cook Report, said that for Republicans to lose the House of Representatives next year "would require a meltdown worse than we’re seeing in the Arctic."
That meltdown, given that the number of competitive districts is at its lowest since Cook first started the partisanship rating in the 1998 election cycle, is nonetheless not a total fantasy in light of Cook's rendition of how Republican failings in five key areas could produce a scenario no one, especially them, think is remotely possible.
Even though the GOP redistricted the congressional map so effectively after the party won big in 2010, the year of the rise of the Tea Party, and retained control of the House last year even though Democratic House candidates got 1.4 million more total votes and reduced their giant gains in 2010 down by half, their current 17-seat majority in the House could be whittled down at best even more [it only takes 218 votes to pass bills in the House] or lost at worst, Cook thinks.
Cook reports that even though Republicans should have a majority following the midterms next year, there are worries that the GOP could lose the House, something Cook says "they hadn’t imagined was possible until the first election after the next redistricting in 2022."
Adding fuel to that notion, Cook said, is talk by "several influential Republicans" who voiced that the party is "in a worse place than it was Nov. 7, the day after the disastrous election," as reported last week by Mike Allen and Jim Vandehei of Politico. The Beltway duo who have turned Politico into the Tigerbeat of the Potomac said they couldn’t find a Republican in Washington D.C. who didn’t see "a disaster in the making."
Cook's big five GOP worries
SENIORS—Seniors are pulling back from the GOP. Republicans have widely embraced plans for dismantling Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid, all of which provide crucial support to older Americans, as well as the economy and being frustrated with the GOP’s extremism. In 2010, the electorate was much older than usual and seniors voted for Republicans by a 19 percent margin. But if research by Democracy Corps is accurate, Democrats could make the election close.
IMMIGRATION—Immigration reform so far has big troubles in the House. Some Republicans say "Shut up and get it done," while others say it will only produce more Democratic voters. Eleven of the 15 districts held by Republicans, Cook says, are a quarter or more Hispanic—and some of them are prime targets for Democrats who need a net win of 17 seats to take back the House.
VOTER SUPPRESSION BACKFIRES—Democrats hope North Carolina’s Republicans have done the nation a service by highlighting how the GOP’s effort to pass voter ID laws and strengthen the "integrity" of the vote is just a bald-faced effort to stop minorities, students and Democrats in general from voting. The only way to defeat these suppression measures is to focus on registration and getting voters whatever identification they need to cast their votes. This effort has already begun in California and as Texas and other states engage in the kind of discriminatory voting restrictions the Voting Rights Act used to block, the backlash could spread, Cook wrote. The minority vote will already be 2 percent larger in 2014 than 2010 because of population growth, according to Ruy Teixeira, a Senior Fellow at both The Century Foundation and American Progress. If minorities support Democrats at levels close to how they backed President Obama, that helps erase the advantage Republicans have going into the election.
COMPLETE INCOMPETENCE—The number of people who identify with the Republican Party has been shrinking since last year’s election. According to Cook, this could be just a "hangover of a big election loss, or the sign of actual dissatisfaction with the party." Republican House leaders have failed to pass a Farm Bill that includes Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program benefits (aka food stamps or SNAP) and the Chairman of the Appropriations Committee says that the sequestration, which conservatives are claiming as their one big victory in cutting big government, is unworkable.
"Later this year, Congress will contend with sequestration and equal pay for women, both of which present Republicans a choice of alienating their own base or riling their political enemies," Salon‘s Brian Beutler said, according to Cook. The second year of the sequestration includes cuts to defense that few Republicans are going to want to defend, meaning they may actually have to compromise. "The GOP’s aversion to compromise makes the likelihood of some sort of government shutdown or debt default a possibility," he said. He added, "Republicans have somehow won back the mantle of fiscal responsibility after blowing the surplus and George W. Bush leaving office with a $1.4 trillion deficit, but their intractability threatens to remind voters of the real reason they rejected Republicans so completely in 2008: incompetence."
OBAMACARE—"What if the thing Republicans spent years demonizing turns out to be a lifesaver for tens of millions of Americans?" Cook wondered. The GOP's hostility to healthcare for the public is the kind of self-interest when it comes to health insurance isn’t to be dismissed lightly. "Health insurance isn’t like other forms of insurance,” writes Ezra Klein of Bloomberg news. "It’s not protection against the unlikely; it’s insulation against the inevitable. Most people never use their fire insurance. Almost everyone uses their health insurance. Eventually." Then there's Paul Krugman of the New York Times, an economist and columnist that make right wing heads explode each Monday and Friday when his columns appear. Krugman says the Republicans’ biggest fear is that "Obamacare will work." Twenty-six million Americans will be getting tax credits to help them buy insurance because of Obamacare, the nickname Republicans dubbed the Affordable Care Act that stuck and is even used by President Obama himself. Millions have no idea that this assistance is coming while millions more will get completely subsidized Medicaid and millions more will find out that they could be getting Medicaid if the Republicans in their state would just take the coverage their residents will be paying for, Cook declares.
Republican worries a Democratic fantasy?
Republicans have and will continue to battle implementation of the ACA, but are literally tens of millions of opportunities for Americans to be better off because of this law. As Cook said, "If just a fraction of the Americans who can benefit do, gratitude for the Democrats who passed it or anger at the Republicans who have spent years trying to repeal the law with no replacement to offer could be enough to change the electorate in ways we cannot fathom today."
Obama's approval rating isn't expected to go up anytime soon since nothing is likely to happen in the next few weeks to cause it to move. The longer-term prospects for Obama's approval rating, into the fall months, are unclear based on his history, Gallup noted, but it did note that during the 2012 election year, his rating improved in the fall months while in previous years, like 2011 after the debt ceiling debate, it did not.
"There will be several significant challenges facing the president when he returns to work, including a return to the debt ceiling issue, the need to pass a budget for the new fiscal year, and the need to roll out some of the more significant changes to the healthcare system set to go into effect on Jan. 1," the survey observed. "These challenges clearly provide Obama with an opportunity to increase his public support if he handles them well, but also could serve to bring his approval rating down if he does not."
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