At Midpoint of Presidency, Obama Is on the Upswing
A new poll shows a positive approval rating for President Obama. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.
In the aftermath of the tragic shootings in Tucson and following a lame-duck congressional session full of positive headlines for the White House, President Obama “is riding a surge of public support,” according to Jonathan Weisman and Danny Yadron of the Wall Street Journal.
The NBC/Wall Street Journal poll is the third released this week showing President Obama’s approval rating north of 50 percent.
From the Journal:
“In the survey, 53% said they approved of the job Mr. Obama is doing as president, up eight percentage points from December. Forty-one percent said they disapprove of the president’s performance, down from 48% last month. The poll surveyed 1,000 adults from Jan. 13-17.”
“Among political independents, positive views of Mr. Obama’s job performance surpassed negative views for the first time since August 2009. For the first time in a year, the president drew a positive reaction from white adults, when asked about their feelings toward Mr. Obama.”
The president is getting some of his highest marks of the past 18 months at a critical juncture in his presidency. He’s five days away from delivering a State of the Union address that will set the course of the second half of his term and tee up his re-election bid.
But the big question that hangs over these poll numbers is this: Is this support purely a post-Tucson and post-lame-duck afterglow, or does it represent a more permanent reservoir of support from which the president can build?
The poll also demonstrates, once again, how closely tied President Obama’s fortunes are to the economic recovery. In the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, 40 percent of respondents said they believe the economy will improve over the next year. That is 8 percent higher than it was in December.
On Capitol Hill, the newly empowered Republicans still seem to have their work cut out for them. The survey found 55 percent of respondents saying they expected the GOP to be too inflexible in dealing with the president. That’s a mirror image of the 55 percent who say President Obama will strike the right balance of flexibility and commitment to principles when dealing with Congress.
“The president has the benefit of the doubt, and Republicans, based on this data, have the burden of proof,” writes Peter Hart, the Democratic half of the NBC/Wall Street Journal polling duo.
Perhaps more important to the president’s political team than these national numbers is a new Quinnipiac University poll in the critical battleground state of Ohio that shows President Obama’s approval rating in positive territory. It also shows nearly 50 percent of those polled want to see him re-elected.
NOW COMES THE HARD PART
On Wednesday, House Republicans delivered on their campaign pledge to repeal the health care law enacted last year. The real legislative push to undo the policy begins Thursday.
At 10:30 a.m. ET, the House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to meet for an oversight hearing on medical liability reform.
The full House is expected to vote by mid-day on a measure that would instruct committees with oversight of health care to report out legislation to replace the current law. The chairs of the five committees — Michigan Rep. Dave Camp (Ways & Means), Michigan Rep. Fred Upton (Energy & Commerce), Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan (Budget), Minnesota Rep. John Kline (Education & Workforce) and Texas Rep. Lamar Smith (Judiciary) – will hold a 1 p.m. ET news conference on Capitol Hill to discuss the GOP’s piecemeal approach to repeal.
Senate Republicans, meanwhile, are putting pressure on eight of their Democratic colleagues to allow a vote on repeal. The targets include Bill Nelson (Florida), Claire McCaskill (Missouri), Jon Tester (Montana), Ben Nelson (Nebraska), Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Bob Casey (Pennsylvania), Jim Webb (Virginia) and Joe Manchin (West Virginia). All eight Democrats are up for reelection in 2012.
“Americans deserve a vote, not a sales pitch,” National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman Brian Walsh said Wednesday in a statement directed at McCaskill.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is also the subject of a similar lobbying effort from his House counterpart, Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va. “Leader Reid continues to say that he is not going to bring this up for a vote in the Senate. The American people deserve a full hearing. They deserve to see this legislation go to the Senate for a full vote,” Cantor told reporters Wednesday.
Reid has dismissed the repeal effort as “partisan grandstanding” and vowed to block its path in the Senate.
On the day he announced he would not seek reelection in 2012, Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., was being rumored for another government job.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a longtime friend of Lieberman’s, told CNN’s Dana Bash Wednesday that he thought the Connecticut lawmaker would be a good choice for secretary of defense. McCain called Lieberman “one of the most informed members of the Senate on national security issues and homeland security issues.”
Lieberman, who caucuses with Democrats in the Senate, upset many in the party when he endorsed McCain during the 2008 presidential campaign and spoke at the Republican convention in Minneapolis. McCain said that should not preclude the president from considering Lieberman for the post.
Asked about McCain’s recommendation Thursday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Lieberman said he was “honored.”
“His whole life is so tied up in the defense of our country that the fact he’d say that meant something to me,” Lieberman said, in a nod to McCain’s service and focus on military issues in the Senate.
As far as the defense secretary job, Lieberman said he’s not holding his breath. “I’m not expecting anything. I’m not asking for anything. I’m just focused now on trying to finish these two years in the Senate and be a bridge-builder and try to get some things done that the country needs done, particularly to cut the debt.”
President Obama congratulated Lieberman on his career, but also made sure to note their differences.
“Even if we don’t always see eye to eye, I always know Joe is coming from a place of principle. I know he will carry with him that integrity and dedication to his remaining work in the Senate and to whatever he chooses to do next,” the president said in a statement that sounded like a job offer might not be forthcoming.
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