Debunking: 52% of Americans Don't Think Obama Deserves Reelection

What does that number actually mean?

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The entire political-opinion world has been consumed with one big number from a CNN poll: 52 percent of Americans believe President Obama "does not deserve reelection." But what does that actually mean? Here, various observers' attempt to unpack the headline-making morsel:
  • Means Numbers Probably Even Worse than Reported  "Being this is a CNN poll," writes conservative radio host MacRanger, "the results most likely be worse [for Democrats] if the sample were more accurate to the American electorate."
  • Means It's Early Yet--Calm Down  "Obama still has years to prove to the electorate he can be the president he promised he would be on the trail in 2008," Evan McMorris-Santoro points out at Talking Points Memo. Greg Sargent agrees: "To be clear, this obviously doesn't have any real bearing on his reelection chances, since 2012 is very far away."
  • Nevertheless, Means He Won't Be Asked to Help in 2010   "How likely would you be to hitch your political wagon to a falling star?" asks Andrew Malcolm for the Los Angeles Times. Democrats up for election may not ask Obama to help them drum up votes.
  • Means 2010 Is Going to Be a Bloodbath  "Frustration toward incumbents ... promises to be a central storyline," asserts Evan McMorris-Santoro, echoing popular wisdom. He and Greg Sargent concur that the poll supports this conclusion.
  • Means Nothing in Particular  "The poll isn't particularly shocking," counters Brendan Nyhan, political scientist posting at The number thinking the president doesn't deserve reelection is "almost identical to the proportion who disapprove of the job he's doing." Moreover, Bush's numbers in August 2001 were arguably worse, with only 36 percent saying he deserved to be reelected, 42 percent saying he didn't, and 22 percent responding "it depends" or unsure.
  • Means Time for Bush-Obama Comparisons  The RedState blog is, understandably, not the friendliest forum for Democrats, but contributor haystack carefully rejects "the temptation to mock." Haystack too notes the similarities in polling between Obama now and Bush before his own reelection. Here are a few of the thoughts on offer:
Like Bush, Obama now finds himself having to glad-hand his political opponents. I think (and I'm prepared to be corrected on this) that there is a fundamental difference between the two however; Bush gave in a little without having to abandon his agenda while Obama appears ready to give up all he stood for a year ago just to cling to his political life - agenda be damned.
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