The Sanity Of The American People, Ctd

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Blumenthal finds that Obama’s approval ratings are holding steady:

The current HuffPost Pollster estimate of Obama’s job approval rating, based on the combination of all available public polls, is 47.6 percent. His approval rating has been declining since the January inauguration, but at a glacial pace, erasing gains made during and after the fall campaign. However, a closer look at the most recent daily tracking polls shows no dramatic change in the past week.

Maybe it’s because, as yet, there is no real scandal. Even the IRS targeting of dubious Tea Party (c)4s is beginning to seem less insane as we discover the scale of their sleaze and the bipartisan calls for oversight. The AP leak was a very serious one, exposing a crucial agent inside a dangerous Yemeni Jihadist cell. Benghazi? There’s very little there there. Nate Silver credits the economy for Obama’s resilience:

Based on the historical relationship between Mr. Obama’s overall and economic approval ratings in the poll, you’d predict that his overall approval rating would be 53 or 54 percent given an economic approval rating of 48 percent. Instead, it’s 51 percent. So it may be that the talk surrounding Benghazi, the I.R.S. and the Justice Department has negatively affected Mr. Obama’s approval rating by two or three percentage points, but that the economy has lifted his numbers by about the same amount.

Ezra sees Obama’s poll numbers as evidence that “scandals are likely to simply harden the Democratic perception that Republicans are out to get Obama, and the Republican perception that Obama is a corrupt president”:

“People respond along party lines,” writes Alan Abramowitz, an Emory political scientist who predicted last week that the polls would remain unchanged, “just like members of Congress. Republicans believe the worst of Obama, but they already believed the worst of Obama. Democrats (correctly) see Republicans pushing these things because they are out to get Obama and stop his agenda and/or they think Obama is responding correctly to the problems that do exist. So it’s like almost every other issue or controversy.”

Except for Independents who, I suspect, are somewhat bored/exhausted by the Washington minutiae. And every day the GOP obsesses about these details, they fail to propose any set of sane policies to address the national problems. In the end, that matters. Under Clinton, at least the GOP had an agenda, other than pure oppositionism. Seth Masket notes that, during the Lewinsky scandal, Clinton famously saw an approval rating bump. The causes of that bump that may also apply to Obama:

One [theory] is that the public largely sympathized with Clinton. Not that they approved of his behavior—far from it—but that they felt that his affair did not warrant impeachment or the media firestorm that surrounded it, and they registered their dissent with the media and with overly enthusiastic congressional Republicans by supporting him.

Another theory, offered by John Zaller, my advisor when I was in graduate school, is that the public generally doesn’t factor scandals in when evaluating presidential performance. What they do care about are the same things they care about during elections: peace, prosperity, and moderation. The intense scandal coverage caused people to pay attention to politics in a non-election season. They evaluated Clinton’s performance and generally judged him to be running things well.

I suspect they think the same of the current president. With good reason.