Is Obama Due For A Comeback?

by Dish Staff

Earlier this week, Beinart made the case that Obama is bouncing back:

This year’s dominant storyline was about Obama and the midterm elections. Most key Senate races took place in red and purple states where Democratic candidates distanced themselves from Obama, thus magnifying the media’s perception that he was a political pariah.

Next year, however, the story won’t be 2014 but 2016. And the Democratic story, in all likelihood, will be Hillary Clinton’s march toward her party’s nomination. While Obama was certainly unpopular this fall in states like Kentucky, he remains quite popular among the liberal activists who play an outsized role in Democratic primaries. In fact, Obama retains a connection to many them that Hillary Clinton has never enjoyed. The closer she comes to the nomination, the more nostalgic some of those grassroots liberals will become about Obama. And this new context—Obama versus Hillary among Democratic activists—rather than Obama versus Alison Lundergan Grimes among Kentucky midterm voters—will cast him in a more favorable light.

That may be true, but Waldman isn’t expecting Obama to win the approval of many Republicans:

[P]artisan identification has sorted and sharpened, and people on both sides are even less willing to give the other side’s guy credit for anything. Bush’s approval among Democrats was in the single digits for most of the last three years of his presidency, and Obama’s approval among Republicans has hovered around 10 percent (sometimes even lower) since 2010.

What that means is that if Obama has a revival in approval, it’ll look not like the 65 percent Clinton had at the end of his term or Reagan had just before Iran-Contra, but more like 50 or 55 percent. That represents most everyone from his party, and a little over half of independents. There are actually very few true independents; most lean to one party or another. Obama won’t get approval from the Republican-leaning ones, but he can get the Democratic-leaning ones, and if things are going well, most of the true independents (who represent maybe 10 percent of the population). Add that all up and it’ll come out to something like that 55 percent number.