Today’s CNN poll, assessing President Obama one year after election day, confirms that America remains a center-left nation. Yet don’t expect pundits to tell you that.
For example, poll analysis from the Wall Street Journal’s John McKinnon implies that declining approval for Obama’s handling of specific issues is down as perceptions of the president as “too liberal” are up:
In just about every specific policy category, Obama’s approval rating has declined significantly since the last time pollsters checked.
On the economy, it’s down to 46%, compared with 54% in September. On health care, it’s 42%, down from 51% in September. On the federal budget deficit, it’s 39%, versus 46% in September (although up from 36% in August). On Afghanistan, it’s 42% versus 49% in August.
The percentage saying his policies are too liberal (42%) is also up slightly [from 40% in August], although 44% still say his policies are just about right. The poll has a margin of error of four percentage points.
That makes it look like the nation is split down the middle about Obama’s program, with conservatism on the rise.
But what the WSJ left out is the percentage of voters who say Obama’s “views and proposed programs” are “not liberal enough.”
That number is 14% — up from 5% in March, and 8% in August.
Conservative disapproval is only up 2 points from August, while liberal disapproval is up 6.
While the combined percentage of voters of who deem Obama’s agenda “just about right” or “not liberal enough” is 58% — roughly parallel to Obama’s overall approval rating of 54%. That’s the center-left governing majority.
Which is not new to us. Institute for America’s Future has been chronicling the underreported news of America’s Progressive Majority, with reports earlier this year and last year.
So the declines in approval of Obama’s handling of specific issues should not be interpreted as a wholesale rejection of the president’s policy direction.
Quite the opposite. What we’re seeing is a growing, albeit still small, frustration that Obama isn’t moving far enough or fast enough to turn his progressive mandate into legislative reality.
I would argue that the president is taking the brunt of the failures of Congress to move the President agenda strongly and swiftly, thanks to the continuing delaying and weakening tactics of the right-leaning minority of the Democratic caucus.
So Congress should not interpret these numbers as cause to delay further, but to get moving.