Passion fades for President Obama among Democrats

June 26, 2013

A majority of Americans regard President Obama favorably, but his numbers have softened considerably among his fellow Democrats, according to new polling conducted by the Washington Post and ABC News.


President Obama. AP Photo.

Obama's favorability stands at 53 percent, compared to 44 percent of Americans who view him unfavorably. While 85 percent of Democrats regard Obama favorably, the number of those who are strongly supportive of him has dropped since the start of the year. Just 58 percent of Democrats describe themselves as having a "strongly favorable" view of Obama, down from 72 percent who said the same in January. Obama's numbers among liberal as well as moderate/conservative Democrats are also at their lowest levels in Post-ABC polling since prior to the Democratic National Convention in the summer of 2012.

Pinpointing why Democrats are not as strongly enthusiastic about President Obama than they were six months ago isn't easy; in politics, there is rarely a direct line between cause and effect. But there are a few reasons that might explain the fade.

1. The election is over. Elections bring out the partisan fervor in, well, partisans. Given that we are now eight months from Obama's re-election win, it's not terribly surprising that  the president has seen some passion fade among his supporters.

2. No big second term accomplishments. President Obama devoted the most powerful moments of his 2013 State of the Union address to the necessity of Congress passing gun control legislation. That push became a touchstone for Democrats across the country. It failed. While immigration reform remains in process, there's not much he can point to that excites his base at the moment.

3. The whiff of scandal. The Internal Revenue Service's targeting of conservatives and the revelations regarding the widespread surveillance of data and phone records by the National Security Agency left Obama playing defense. While neither story turned Democrats away from Obama, they may well have cut at the enthusiasm that members of his party expressed for him.

The dip in passion among Democrats isn't likely to concern the White House — or the  party more broadly — all that much at the moment. But if in a year's time there remains a lack of energy in the base for the president, it could pose a real problem for the party in the 2014 midterm elections.

Last day of Supreme Court decisions: The court will issue its final decisions of the term Wednesday, and all eyes are on a pair of landmark gay marriage cases. The court on Tuesday found a key part of the Voting Rights Act to be unconstitutional. The forthcoming decisions on California'a gay marriage ban and the federal Defense of Marriage Act will cap a week of closely watched decisions.

Markey tops Gomez in Massachusetts: The next senator from Massachusetts will be Rep. Ed Markey (D), who, as expected, defeated Republican Gabriel Gomez Tuesday. Markey won by ten points, thanks in part to strong support from national Democratic allies who were determined not to repeat the party's 2010 fate, when Republican Scott Brown won an upset. Markey will replace interim Sen. Mo Cowan (D).

Texas lawmaker stages marathon filibuster over abortion: Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis (D) launched a marathon filibuster Tuesday, garnering widespread national attention for her opposition to a Republican-backed effort to tighten abortion restrictions. Social media were abuzz with details of the filibuster, which stretched late into the night. Davis's stand reaffirmed that marathon filibusters have the potential to quickly go viral (Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) knows this), and draw broad attention to the issue in question.

Fixbits: 

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said Obama "declared war on coal."

Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D) is on the air in the New Jersey Senate race.

The National Republican Congressional Committee is hitting seven House Democrats with paid online ads over Obama's plans to address climate change. The spots target Democratic Reps. Collin Peterson (Minn.), Ron Barber (Ariz.), Dave Loebsack (Iowa), Rick Nolan (Minn.), Carol Shea-Porter (N.H.), Pete Gallego (Texas), and Nick Rahall (W.Va.).

Anthony Weiner has a slight lead in a new poll of the New York City Democratic mayoral primary.

Penny Pritzker was confirmed as the next Commerce secretary. Only Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) voted against her.

Mick Jagger zinged Obama.

Must-reads:

"Donor bought Rolex watch for Virginia Gov. McDonnell, people familiar with gift say" — Carol D. Leonnig and Rosalind S. Helderman, Washington Post

"IG: Audit of IRS actions limited to Tea Party groups at GOP request" — Berie Becker, The Hill

"William ‘Mo’ Cowan of Massachusetts: A short-timer heads for the Senate exit" — Ed O'Keefe, Washington Post

"On climate change, Obama bypasses Congress with ambitious plan" — Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post

"Supreme Court decisions divide GOP" — Jake Sherman and John Bresnahan, Politico

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Chris Cillizza | June 25, 2013