Wow. It was just last week that this pollster wrote about my belief that President Obama's approval ratings would drop to somewhere in the mid-40 percentiles by early next year. It only took a matter of days. By the second week in December, Obama's approval had slipped to somewhere around 46 percent to 48 percent, depending on the poll. Those Americans who disapprove of the president's job performance had edged closer to being equal to those who approve.
If the White House wants to know why this has happened, and so fast, here goes. (Free advice from a pollster can be useful, if perhaps unwanted. That goes even for unsolicited advice to Democrats from a pollster with Republican roots.)
My take on all this is that a significant majority of Americans are preoccupied with the economy and with government spending. So when the president offers up as the answer to the nation's woes the throwing of more and more public dollars into alleged stimulus efforts to create jobs, an overwhelming percentage of Republicans and a great many independent voters are going to react negatively and passionately. That leaves only hardcore Democrats to stand by their man, the president. And the number of those who identify themselves as Democrats nationwide has been shrinking.
Most see the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) as, well, troubled. (The problems that precipitated TARP were not all of Obama's making, although his administration supervised most of its conception and implementation.) The public perception is largely that TARP is a sham that "rescued" big banks, most of which within a year or so are flushed with cash. So much so that these banks are either keeping the gift cash without extending credit to businesses in dire need or they are now able to repay the massive loans. This allows them to avoid restrictions on the compensation levels for top management.
The public is also looking askance at the earlier, federal government stimulus package. It was billed as being the catalyst that would spur significant job growth with any number of "shovel-ready" public works and other projects. Some voters may have read about or otherwise learned that the official numbers released on jobs created by the stimulus package have been grossly inflated.
More than that, most of these disenchanted Americans have a gut feeling that the economies in their home regions simply haven't improved. They infer, then, that this non-growth can be attributed at least partly to the stimulus package not doing much stimulating.