Charlie Cook | Obama will be an anchor around Democrats’ necks in November

Generally speaking, the further into a U.S. president’s tenure in office one gets, the less volatility there is in that president’s job-approval rating.

It’s pretty logical that 1,979 days into Barack Obama’s presidency, the number of people most inclined to approve of his performance has stabilized, as has the number of those disposed to disapprove of him. Given that Obama tends to evoke particularly strong emotions with bedrock supporters and equally adamant opponents, arguably more people than usual have locked in their opinions. And those who are undecided by this point are the folks who have pretty much checked out of politics and are unlikely to come down on one side or the other. Simply put, there are few people left who are ambivalent about Obama’s performance. We see large variances at this point only when we compare the results of one pollster to another. These variances are likely the result of individual firms’ unique methodologies and sampling idiosyncrasies; they do not represent the genuine changing of minds…

Compounding this problem for Democrats is the makeup of the midterm electorate. This midterm-voting group is older, whiter, more conservative, and more Republican than those who turn out in a presidential election. Young and minority voters who flocked to the polls in 2008 and 2012 are very difficult to motivate for a Democratic candidate who very clearly isn’t Barack Obama. They got revved up for Obama in a presidential election year, but can endangered Democrats now get these voters excited for them in a midterm as well? The opposition is galvanized, but getting these more sporadic voters to turn out is far harder.

Those who seem to think that this election is a fair fight, taking place on a level playing field, are badly mistaken.


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