Zogby: Obama Faces Volatile Political Landscape

Friday, 26 Feb 2010 06:16 PM

By John Rossomando

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President Barack Obama and both major political parties face an uphill fight going into this fall’s midterm elections, pollster John Zogby, president and CEO of Zogby International, told Newsmax.TV.

Republicans and Democrats have solid control over their respective bases, but Zogby told Newsmax.TV’s Kathleen Walter that neither party has any credibility with independent voters.

“Both parties are in trouble because neither party have a message for the middle, but they do have a message for their base,” Zogby said.

See the full video interview with John Zogby below.

He said this polarization can be seen in Obama’s poll numbers, which have been hovering around 50 percent due to support from his base. Zogby’s most recent poll had Obama with a 49 percent approval rating.

The president enjoys firm support from Democrats, including 88 percent of blacks, which has kept his poll numbers from collapsing further.

“[This] means that he’s wounded, he’s not fatally wounded by any stretch of the imagination, but he is wounded,” Zogby said. “That means he’s not able to translate that into a governing majority, and he just rolled the dice by getting back to a campaign promise, which was to solve problems to build consensus.

“He’s not building the consensus part, but at least he’s trying to do something with the jobs bill, with the healthcare bill, and it remains to be seen whether the American people favor stagnation and inaction or whether they favor a risk taker.”

Zogby says it remains to be seen if Obama’s gamble of sticking with the Democrats’ unpopular healthcare bill will pay off for him politically in the long run because people want something done about healthcare, and he will be able to tell voters he tried doing something.

Obama also faces an uphill fight when it comes to jobs because his efforts to stimulate the economy.

“Whatever is spent on stimulating the market may just very well stem the tide without growing the economy,” Zogby said. “We’re in for a tough job market for a while.”

But he said Americans think the private sector should create jobs rather than the government.

It’s too soon to discount Obama’s re-election chances, Zogby said, because similar efforts against Ronald Reagan in 1982 and Bill Clinton in 1995 proved premature.

But Zogby believes Republicans will benefit from the Democrats’ missteps and pick up 25 seats in the House and 10 seats in the Senate.

He predicts Illinois Republican Rep. Mark Kirk will pickup Obama’s former Senate seat and that Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., is vulnerable against former Rep. Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania, but he does not know how much damage Specter’s primary challenger, Rep. Joe Sestak, will inflict.

At the same time, he believes Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., will successfully fend off his primary challenge from conservative former Rep. J.D. Hayworth.

Zogby also believes former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio could end up “winning the battle but losing the war” in the Senate race against Florida's Republican Gov. Charlie Crist. Zogby says he is uncertain how well tea party-backed candidates will do in the general election.

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