The date for elections to Federal (as well as most state and local) offices this year is November 2. According to my date calculator that is 106 days from today.
There's nothing magical about 106 days, but once we get within four months of an election, we tend to look for secret messages coded into the results of public polls. There aren't any, of course, but we try to tease them out nonetheless.
Let's take the poll commissioned by the folks at Bloomberg which was in the field from July 9 - 12 and reached 1,004 U.S. adults ages 18 and over. I give a poll commissioned by the Bloomberg organization about as much weight as White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs gives to a poll commissioned by Fox News.
You know my rule about throwing out the high and the low results from a stack of polls. According to RealClearPolitics.com's polling summary. Of the six polls which have been out of the field in the past week, Fox had Obama's approval rating at 43 percent (the lowest of the six); and Bloomberg had Obama's approval at 52 percent (the highest of the group).
Bloomberg must have asked its respondents if they were registered to vote because on the "generic vote" (would you vote for the Republican candidate or the Democratic candidate for Congress?) question, among all respondents, 43 percent said would vote for (or were leaning toward) the Democratic candidate; 43 percent for the Republican.
But, on this question alone in the public data, where the answers of registered voters were separated out, the result swerved pretty significantly toward the GOP: 40 percent of RVs said they would vote for (or were leaning toward) the D; 48 percent said they were for the R - a swing of eight percentage points.
I bring this to your attention because, as you may have heard, Barack Obama will not be on the ballot in November. Neither will George W. Bush be in the White House. You can be certain, though, that the Democratic National Committee will do everything it can to remind you of how unhappy you were when GWB was in residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Obama will not be running, but if the GOP does its job properly the November election will be a referendum on Obama's policies.
Bloomberg asked whether respondents had become more or less supportive of a number of issues and policies over the past few months:
- The Arizona Immigration law: 48 percent more supportive; 26 percent less (-22)
The Obama Administration is suing Arizona;
- The stimulus bill: 35% more supportive; 31% less (+4)
The White House is crowing about the positive effects of the stimulus package
- Health care overhaul: 29% more supportive; 37% less (-8)
Health care is Obama's legacy issue
- Banning all off-shore drilling: 20% more supportive; 37% less (-17)
The Obama Administration is pressing this hard in the courts
- Having loaned money to the auto industry: 17% more supportive; 48% less (-31)
People have come to understand that Obama bailed out the United Auto Workers Union not the United States auto industry.
Even though the people Bloomberg's pollsters talked to thought that Obama was doing a good job as President, 52-44; there was no issue area (the Gulf spill, economy, deficit, Afghanistan, jobs, health care or Wall Street) that he got over 50 percent of the people thinking he was doing a good job.
One last polling bit. Gallup does a regular tracking poll on the U.S. job market. Gallup asks about 1,600 working adults whether their company appears to be hiring, keeping the number of employees about the same, or laying people off.
The latest numbers are:
- 27 percent say their company is hiring
- 46 percent say the headcount is staying about the same
- 21 percent say their company is letting people go.
Depending upon whether you see the employment glass as being half empty or half full, either 73 percent say things have leveled out or are getting better; or 67 percent say things are no better or are getting worse.
If there are any Republicans still trying to decide what issues to run on in November, there are some pretty good suggestions.