But those numbers only serve to undermine the notion that President Obama surged at the end of 2011. After his 2010 “surge,” President Obama was at 50% and +7 approval/disapproval. After his 2011 “surge,” he was at 41% and -9 approval/disapproval. Not only are President Obama’s poll numbers stagnant, but he is entering 2012 significantly weaker than he entered 2011.
There are a couple other lessons we can gleam from this media-generated nonsense. First, we should never overreact to any single poll. Second, conservatives must draw a clear contrast between their priorities and President Obama’s. The latter deserves some special attention. Drawing a sharp contrast is commonplace on the presidential campaign trail, but frequently less so in Congress. In 2012, it is imperative lawmakers remain committed to drawing that clear contrast to President Obama.
Think about this summer’s debt deal.
From a rhetorical standpoint, congressional Republicans created a clear contrast by advocating the end of Washington’s blank check culture. President Obama’s worst approval/disapproval of his term, -17, came in the aftermath. Not surprisingly, President Obama’s dreadful numbers tracked with substantial support for a Republican-controlled Congress. According to an August WSJ/NBC poll, registered voters preferred a Republicans-controlled Congress by a 6-point margin, levels not seen since 1997.
Anything can happen eleven months before an election, but one thing is clear: President Obama is not surging and he will remain stagnant so long as lawmakers remain on the offense and paint in bold colors.