The Washington elites are abuzz over Obama's poll decline. Of course, polls are mercurial, everchanging and go up and down. Nevertheless they do reflect a reality of public perception at a particular moment and they create their own dynamic. New research from the folks at Pew suggests that the economy, health care and Obama's comments on the Henry Louis Gates arrest have helped push his numbers down. All those things certainly make sense. While everybody wants health care reform in the abstract, people are bound to be disappointed when it comes to specifics. And the economy continues to suffer despite an uptick in the financial markets. The Gates episode seems to have hurt Obama most with non-Hispanic whites who may more naturally side with the police that Obama claims acted "stupidly" before walking his comments back.
I suspect some other dynamics are at work, too. Among them:
Washington's stuck. Whenever Washington seems to be fighting and legislation is stalled from partisan gridlock you're going to see numbers go down. Right now the health care process is actually moving along pretty briskly, but if you were just watching it casually you would think that the Beltway had descended into the same old stalemate.