Poll: Obama Endorsement Poison for Candidates

Friday, 18 Jun 2010 09:14 AM

By Theodore Kettle

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Nearly half of voters surveyed this month — 48 percent — said President Obama’s endorsement of a candidate would make them less likely to vote for that candidate. Only 33 percent said an Obama endorsement would make them more likely to vote for such a candidate, while 18 percent said it made no difference or they didn’t know.

In its latest national survey, the highly regarded Public Policy Polling (PPP), a Democratic Party-associated firm based in Raleigh, N.C., questioned 650 voters from June 4 to June 7.

With a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percent, the poll found what PPP calls “the Obama Effect” to run strong and deep.
  • For example, 42 percent of the women surveyed said Obama’s endorsement would make them less likely to vote for someone, with 36 percent of women viewing the president’s support positively.
  • Meanwhile, 55 percent of men took a negative view of Obama’s backing, while only 30 percent of men said the president’s endorsement increased a candidate’s chance of getting their votes.
  • Also significant is the fact that 54 percent of those identifying themselves as “independent” or “other,” rather than Republican or Democrat, now view an Obama endorsement as a factor swaying them against voting for a candidate for office.
  • Only 23 percent of such independent voters said his endorsement would make them more likely to support someone; the remaining 23 percent of independents said it didn’t matter or they didn’t know.
  • A huge proportion of those independent voters — 57 percent — disapprove of the way the president is handling the ongoing BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, while only 27 percent approve.
  • Looking at the figures in terms of ethnic groups, 44 percent of Hispanics said they would be less likely to vote for someone President Obama endorses, while only 33 percent were more likely. Among whites, the comparison was 55 percent to 27 percent. Blacks, however, were another story, with only 13 percent viewing an Obama endorsement dimly and 70 percent saying it would make them more likely to vote for someone. And 83 percent of blacks said they approved of Obama’s handling of the Gulf oil disaster.

Dividing the bad news for the president into age groups also illustrates the breadth of the negativity for Obama.
  • Those ages 18 to 29 favored Obama the most, but 42 percent said his endorsement would decrease the chance of their voting for a candidate, while 40 percent said it would increase the chances.
  • Voters between 30 and 45 were 53 percent less likely and 30 percent more likely to be swayed toward an Obama-backed candidate; among 46-to-65-year olds the results were 44 percent less likely versus 34 percent more likely; those over 65 surveyed were the least impressed with the president — 57 percent said they would be less likely to vote for someone he endorsed, while 30 percent were more likely.

PPP’s Tom Jensen wrote on the pollster’s blog that “Democrats are going to have to think really carefully about how they deploy Barack Obama for campaigning this fall.”

Jensen also noted the devastating findings that, even in the president’s home state of Illinois, “just 26 percent of voters say they’d be more inclined to back an Obama endorsed candidate while 40 percent say his support would be more likely to turn them against a candidate.”

The PPP’s dramatic results come in the wake of a Rasmussen Reports Presidential Tracking Poll this week finding that the president’s approval rating had dropped to a new low of 42 percent.

“The president’s approval rating has held steady in the 46 percent-47 percent range for six months,” pollster Scott Rasmussen noted, “and it remains to be seen whether this new low is merely statistical noise or the start of a lasting change.”

The PPP poll also follows a Gallup job approval poll released Monday that found Obama’s weekly rating falling to 46 percent. “This matches the lowest weekly job approval rating of Obama’s presidency, recorded two weeks earlier, and is slightly lower than the 47 percent from a week ago,” Gallup noted.

“As the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico grew in size and severity in May, President Obama saw his own weekly job approval rating slip from 50 percent to 46 percent,” the polling firm added. “However, it has since stabilized at the lower level. In contrast with earlier in the year, when Obama's approval dipped solely among independents and Republicans, the latest decline — on the order of 2 to 3 percentage points — is seen about equally with all three party groups.”

The mishandling of the oil disaster is taking such a toll that, less than a year and a half into his term, Barack Obama is suffering serious loss of support even within the base of his own party.

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