A CNN/ORC International poll
out Tuesday shows President Barack Obama’s poll numbers
According to the survey, 49 percent of Americans approve of the job Obama is doing in the White House, up five points from last month, with 48 percent saying they disapprove, down six points from mid-November.
The 49 percent approval rating is the president's highest since May, when his number hit 54 percent thanks to a bounce following the killing of Osama bin Laden. Since then, in CNN polling, Obama's approval rating has hovered in the mid-40s.
CNN’s liberal spin-meisters have put out the story line that the partisan battle over extending the payroll tax cut may be partially responsible for the jump in the president's numbers.
And of course, congressional Republicans who oppose extending the payroll tax cut (if it means adding to the deficit and debt) are the bad guys in that story.
CNN may or may not be on to something with that analysis, but it doesn’t fully explain Obama’s recovery. While Congress was debating the payroll tax, Obama was largely invisible on the issue (when the poll was in the field), so we have a slightly different take on the numbers.
If Obama is looking better because voters are comparing him to a wildly unpopular Congress, who could disagree that as long as Congress is the looking glass through which voters see Obama, he’s bound to look better?
But the CNN poll was also in the field during a time when the Republican presidential nominating contest took a strongly negative turn. And, as long as the Republican presidential primary is a mud-wrestling contest, Obama is going to look better and more presidential simply by being absent from the fray.
While all of the fall debates featured a good bit of parry and thrust between the Republicans (and some tough talk to draw distinctions between the candidates and their opponents), there was an equal amount — maybe even a preponderance — of time spent attacking Obama and his failed policies.
And Obama sank in the polls as a result. Now Republicans are spending millions of dollars making each other look less presidential — and as a logical result, Obama looks better.
If Republicans want to keep Obama’s approval rating under 50 percent, as it has been all summer and fall, they need to get voters’ attention off the arguments between the Mini-Me’s in Congress and back on Obama’s failures at the presidential level.
This means the Republican presidential candidates need to spend more time out on the campaign trail (and on the airwaves) criticizing Obama’s record and selling conservative alternatives to it — and a lot less time trashing each other.
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