(1) The President's overall approval rating has fallen steeply since he was first elected. It has been below the magic 50% line for some time in the RealClearPolitics moving average:
(2) One recent poll had the President's approval rating at just 45%. That's 1% below the 46% held by Bill Clinton in 1994 – a year when the Republicans made massive gains in the House and Senate.
(3) Just as Obama's last minute visit to Massachusetts was unable to save that state from going Republican, Obama's endorsement is a net negative today. A Public Policy Poll in Obama's home state of Illinois found that an endorsement from him would make 40% of voters less likely to vote for the candidate
receiving it. 26% said it would encourage them to back the endorsed candidate.
(4) Respected political analyst Charlie Cook sees Obama's failure to focus on the economy as a big reason why the Democrats may lose control of the House of Representatives in November. Cook thinks the Democrats will lose six to eight Senators but maintain (narrow) control. Bush's political guru Karl Rove notes that Obama's problems are greatest in the swing seats: "Just 37% of voters in these districts agreed Mr. Obama's "economic
policies helped avert an even worse crisis and are laying a foundation
for our eventual economic recovery"; 57% believed they "have run up a
record federal deficit while failing to end the recession or slow the
record pace of job losses.""
(5) Debate is beginning to turn against his high spending ways. Germany and Britain have been leading the international debate against his Keynesian economics. The Independent reports that an increasing number of US states and members of his own party are now calling for spending restraint.
(6) It's not just the economy. The White House's lack of focus means that Americans are dissatisfied on every front. A YouGov/ Economist poll captures the widespread pessimism (particularly with out-of-control spending):
(7) The Gulf of Mexico oil spill has hurt the President's reputation for competence. Hurricane Katrina was a defining event for George W Bush. Bush's administration never fully recovered from the perception that it was too slow in its response to the tragedy that engulfed New Orleans. Polling says that voters think Obama's handling of the oil spill crisis has been WORSE than Bush's handling of Katrina.
(8) The Democrat-controlled Congress is recording some of the lowest approval numbers on record. Just 20% approve in the latest Gallup polling. That's 3% below 1994 when Democrats last faced massive anti-incumbent sentiment. In the thirty most vulnerable Democrat-held seats, the Republicans lead by 9% (48% to 39%).
(9) Other Gallup polling suggests that the Republican party is likely to get out its vote. 59% of Republican voters are more enthusiastic about voting than usual. The Democrats' number trails at just 44%.
(10) Even though Obama has passed a massive stimulus bill and healthcare reform the liberal wing of his party is increasingly unhappy with him. The Huffington Post has been leading the charge, accusing Obama of a lack of conviction. Ross Douthat at the New York Times analyses 'The Agony of the Liberals'.
All is far from lost for the Democrats. They have stockpiled more campaign funds. As The Economist has done, they are hoping to paint the Republicans as too close to extremists. But, most likely, is that Americans will use the mid-terms to vote for more bipartisanship in government. They have seen how the Democrats have used their monopoly control of Washington and they haven't enjoyed it.