Sabato's Crystal Ball

Despite Falling Poll Numbers, Little Evidence of Erosion in Obama’s Base

Alan I. Abramowitz, Guest Columnist September 3rd, 2009

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Over the past several weeks President Obama has seen his approval rating fall from the low-60s to the low-50s in national polls. The president has come under attack recently not only from pundits and politicians on the right upset with his proposals to expand the role of government in health care and energy but from some commentators on the left who feel that his policies are too cautious and don’t go far enough to address the challenges facing the country. Despite the grumbling on the left, however, there is little evidence thus far of erosion in support for the president among the groups that comprised his electoral base in the last election.

The figure below shows a scatterplot of the relationship between Mr. Obama’s share of the vote in 2008 and his approval rating in the Gallup Poll during the week of August 17-23 among 25 demographic groups. These results indicate that the president continues to enjoy strong support among African-Americans, Democrats, liberals, Hispanics, younger Americans, and those who seldom or never attend religious services. All of these groups voted overwhelmingly for Mr. Obama last November. His support is weakest among Republicans, conservatives, older Americans and regular churchgoers. All of these groups voted overwhelmingly for John McCain last November. The correlation between the President’s current approval rating in these 25 groups and his share of the vote last November is a near perfect .99. Ten months after the 2008 presidential election, it appears that we are right back where we were last November when it comes to the political divisions in the country.