The Gallup daily tracking poll showing President Obama with a 39 percent approval rating — the lowest of his presidency — is just a blip in time. A reflection of the dissatisfaction of the electorate at a time of gyrating markets, shrinking retirement accounts and Washington inaction. But it’s a serious blip that shows Obama is in serious trouble, especially coming after last week’s relatively decent showings in the NYT-CBS News and the USA Today/Gallup polls.
Fortunately, it appears Obama gets it.
“There is nothing wrong with our country. There is something wrong with our politics. ” Obama said to applause in Michigan last week. “There are some in Congress right now who would rather see their opponents lose than see America win,” he continued. “And that has to stop. It’s got to stop. We’re supposed to all be on the same team, especially when we’re going through tough times. We can’t afford to play games — not right now, not when the stakes are so high for our economy.”
Both E.J.Dionne and John Harwood write about the pivot point the president faces now. The key line in Dionne’s piece is where he writes that Obama “is both conflict-averse and highly competitive.” It’s that latter character trait that Dionne correctly points out Obama has no choice but to keep front and center if he hopes to stay in the White House. Harwood reports that Obama is aiming to get the public involved, just as he did in the final week of the debt-ceiling fight. Leveraging public support to hammer a deeply unpopular Republican Congress is a smart move.
So, the president must keep up his renewed fighting spirit, and he must rally the public to his side. Once he does that, all he has to do is pray that the economy turns around. As Adam Serwer convincingly writes at The Plum Line today, “It’s still the economy, stupid, and what will likely determine the outcome in 2012 is not how the president’s approval ratings look today but what the economy looks like over the course of the next year or so.”