The utter irrelevance of congressional approval ratings

Politics,Beltway Confidential,Conn Carroll

Democratic Party Communications Director Brad Woodhouse is upset that The Washington Post is highlighting the fact that President Obama’s approval rating has fallen off a cliff as the economy has failed to improve. The Post reports:

The afterglow of President Obama’s reelection and inauguration appears to have vanished as increasingly negative views among Americans about his stewardship of the economy have forced his public approval rating back down to the 50 percent mark, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

At 50 percent, Obama’s overall standing in the poll is lower than that of most other modern second-term presidents at this point in their terms. Of the seven second-term presidents who have been in office since Harry S. Truman, only George W. Bush had a positive rating as low as 50 percent at this stage.

Woodhouse would much rather prefer that The Post highlighted how unpopular Congressional Republicans are. He tweeted this morning:

This easily could have been the headline in the story on the WaPo-ABC poll: GOP at historic lows, public opposes all of their approaches.

And it is true, just 24 percent of those surveyed by The Post said they approved of the way the Republicans in Congress are doing their job. But that is not a historic low. The 20 percent they got in a December 2011 Washington Post poll holds that title.

More importantly, that 24 percent is not that much worse than the 30 percent approval (67 percent disapproval) mark Republicans receive in an October 2010 Washington Post poll. Just one month later House Republicans throttled House Democrats by more than 5.7 million votes at the only poll that really matters, election day.

The fact is, President Obama is a lame duck whose power diminishes more and more every day. His plummeting approval rating only makes that situation worse. The fact that Congressional Republicans may be slightly more unpopular doesn’t change that fact.

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