August has not been kind to President Obama. He began the month in a showdown with congressional Republicans over raising the nation’s debt ceiling and is nearing the end with his lowest poll numbers ever. According to the latest Gallup tracking poll his approval rating has hit a new low of 38 percent. The White House says that August is traditionally a tough month for Obama, but that hasn’t stopped Republican tongues from wagging that he will be a one-termer.
George Mason University political scientist Michael Fauntroy says that even if it really is just a tough time of year for Obama, his team can’t be feeling good about the numbers.
“I’m not surprised they’re down, but I am surprised that they went down so fast and so far,” Fauntroy said. “Just a few months ago he got a bump to over 50 percent after Osama bin Laden was killed. What has changed since then?”
Fauntroy suspects that the president, like Congress, is suffering from collateral damage from the protracted the debt-ceiling debate and subsequent deal. But he also thinks that his Martha’s Vineyard vacation is making matters worse. The president should be able to vacation wherever he wants, Fauntroy strongly believes, but politically speaking, it’s not a good look.
“Martha’s Vineyard has become a euphemism for out-of-touch liberal,’’ he said. “It’s not true and it’s not fair, but that’s the way it is.”
Another Gallup poll that matched up Obama with GOP presidential hopefuls showed him to be in a statistical dead heat with Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minnesota), Texas lawmakers Gov. Rick Perry and Rep. Ron Paul, and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.
But Fauntroy says there’s plenty of time for Obama to significantly improve his numbers.
“A GOP contender or alternative has not fully emerged, so some of this has to be seen in the context of who the candidate on the other side will be” he says. “If it’s Michele Bachmann or Rick Perry, people will be shocked to see how quickly his numbers go up.”
So, it’s not all bad news for Obama. According to a third Gallup survey, Perry has “zoomed” to the front of the Republican pack, leading Romney by 29 percent to 17 percent.
(Photo: ASSOCIATED PRESSAP)