Obama White Support Declining

President Obama is losing support among white voters — including white Democrats — a new LAT poll finds.

Obama White Approval Drops

The voters losing faith in the president are the ones he had worked hardest to attract. New surveys show steep declines in Obama’s approval ratings among whites — including Democrats and independents — who were crucial elements of the diverse coalition that helped elect the country’s first black president. Among white Democrats, Obama’s job approval rating has dropped 11 points since his 100-days mark in April, according to surveys by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. It has dropped by 9 points among white independents and whites over 50, and by 12 points among white women — all groups that will be targeted by both parties in next year’s midterm elections.

“While Obama has a lock on African Americans, his support among white voters seems to be almost in a free fall,” said veteran Republican pollster Neil Newhouse.

Strategists in both parties blame Obama’s decline on growing discontent with his policy agenda, particularly after a month of often-rowdy debate over his proposed healthcare overhaul, in which some conservatives accused him of socialism. Obama’s ratings seem likely to rise again if he wins passage of healthcare legislation this fall.

But the drop in support among whites also comes as some conservatives have stoked controversies that have the potential to further erode Obama’s standing among centrists — including some controversies that resulted from White House stumbles.

Disclosure: Newhouse is a founding partner of Public Opinion Strategies, which employs my wife as its Chief Operating Officer.

It’s virtually axiomatic that, if Obama’s support dropped — which was itself virtually inevitable given his high initial ratings and the political challenges he faced — that it would first do some among the groups that he had to work hardest to persuade.   He got elected partly on an “anybody but Bush” platform and partly on a “Change!” agenda of doing away with politics as usual.  Once he won, however, he was forced to govern in the usual political system.

Beyond that, because so many fiscal conservatives and libertarians were disaffected by the Bush administration and the Republican leadership in the previous Congress, a lot of regular Republican voters supported Obama.  They were naturally going to be disappointed.

FILED UNDER: Public Opinion Polls, Race and Politics, US Politics, , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Steve Plunk says:

    This surprises no one. It was expected Obama would be forced to actually live up to his hype and realists knew that couldn’t happen. Promises too big and too diverse could not be kept once elected.

  2. odograph says:

    I was going to say “not me,” but then I realized that while I’m not down on Obama, I am perhaps a little more neutral than I was.

    But, I can give the guy time. His actual errors have been few, despite the array of teapots offered up with their attendant, miniature, tempests.

  3. Triumph says:

    Beyond that, because so many fiscal conservatives and libertarians were disaffected by the Bush administration and the Republican leadership in the previous Congress, a lot of regular Republican voters supported Obama. They were naturally going to be disappointed.

    The main problem is that he is a Communist who is trying to push his Hitler-esque philosophy down everyone’s throats.

    That may work at a bastion of liberalism like Chicago law school, but real Americans don’t buy his act.

  4. tom says:

    Obama has really taken on a lot in 7 months, and accomplished a lot in that short period of time. I agree with odograph…give the guy some time before you jump on him for trying to fix so many problems.

  5. Wayne says:

    It doesn’t help when the President calls those who oppose any of his policies names and his supporters are so quick to call anyone who opposes any of his policies as racist. Many of the tea parties and anti-Obama healthcare opponents voted for him. They are called names for doing so and people wonder why they no longer support him.

    Yes people should respect the President but the President should respect the people even more.

  6. Wayne says:

    Oh, on the political side, if the Dems lose 10% of the whites they will not be able to make it up by attracting more minorities. I forgot the actual party make up and can’t research it right now but think that is the number that will spell doom for the Dems.

  7. Gustopher says:

    I believe that most of the falling support is from hard-core liberals upset that Obama has not moved fast enough on health care reform, has attempted to compromise, and has failed to personally smite any of the tea baggers.

    I believe this as firmly as the insane-right believe that Obama scaled back his indoctrination seminar in response to their outrage.

  8. just me says:

    I don’t think this is shocking. Every presidents approval ratings go down after a while. I think it is also important to consider whether disapproval actually translates into lost votes. There were points where I could easily say I did not approve of Bush, but that didn’t necessarily mean in 2004 I was going to vote for Kerry.

    I do think where the disapproval could hurt is in the 2010 congressional elections. Disapproval for Obama could translate into voting for the GOP congressional candidate.

    Honestly at this point, while I didn’t vote for Obama I actually have a lower opinion of congress than I do Obama at this point.

  9. odograph says:

    I have a feeling that Obama has won the health care debate, by waiting it out.

    When the dust settled, consensus was for reform. In fact I don’t believe anyone says everything can stay the same. Or if they do, they say if for a moment before mentioning that it is bankrupt, and has to change. That consensus for change is his open door.

  10. Steven Donegal says:

    Unfortunately for the Rs, Obama won’t be running against himself. The Rs will have to put up a candidate, that candidate will have to win the approval of the Beck/Limbaugh/Hannity crowd and all those white people who voted for Obama in 2008 will vote for him again.

  11. Steve Verdon says:

    Unfortunately for the Rs, Obama won’t be running against himself. The Rs will have to put up a candidate, that candidate will have to win the approval of the Beck/Limbaugh/Hannity crowd and all those white people who voted for Obama in 2008 will vote for him again.

    Ahhh the smugness and arrogance. Jane’s Law of Politics proven yet again.

  12. just me says:

    and all those white people who voted for Obama in 2008 will vote for him again.

    Or they may stay home.

  13. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Last time Obama ran for President nobody knew anything about him. Now we know he has friends like Van Jones, and a whole bunch of advisors who are more radical than what any of you know right now. Obama has violated law after law with impunity. Michele Obama has a personal staff of 24 all on the public payroll. I would like to think the Republicans take back congress and impeach the bastard. Van Jones wrote the stimulus bill. Did you know that?

  14. sam says:

    The stupidest thing Zelsdorf has ever posted on OTB (and that’s saying a lot):

    Van Jones wrote the stimulus bill. Did you know that?

  15. Pete Burgess says:

    Read Camille Paglia. She nails it regarding both parties: http://www.salon.com/opinion/paglia/2009/09/09/healthcare/

  16. An Interested Party says:

    It doesn’t help when the President calls those who oppose any of his policies names and his supporters are so quick to call anyone who opposes any of his policies as racist.

    Strawman much? What names has the president supposedly called those who oppose “any of his policies” and who are all these supporters who are supposedly so quick to label “anyone who opposes any of his policies” with the “racist” label?

    And is it really all that smug to point out that despite whatever problems the president is having right now, he’ll probably win reelection in 2012 if his opponent is, say, Sarah Palin or Mike Huckabee…

  17. James — this is a really weak post as you are trying to argue that there is something unusual going on in the loss of white support for Obama. Yet, the graph that you post really does not show that.

    Overall support for Obama dropped 10 points, or ~20% in the time frame. Among White Dems, a loss of 11 points or a loss of 12%, among White Independents, a loss of 9 points or 18%, among White Republicans a loss of 12 points or 44%, among White college Grads, a loss of 9 points or 15%, and among White some college or less, a loss of 11 points, or ~22%.

    The only sub-groups where Obama lost more support in the subgroup than in the general population were White GOP, and White, some college or less. And given the smaller sub-sample size and thus larger margins of error, the White some college or less sub-group change is statistically indistinguishable from Obama’s general loss of support.

    So wow — Obama is losing support from White GOP voters at a faster rate than he is losing support from the general population. What a surprise that he is losing support from the sub-group that initially was least likely to support him anyway. Everything else is just trend.

  18. James Joyner says:

    Dave: I’m reporting what the LAT is reporting.

  19. Wayne says:

    AIP
    Have you been asleep? You don’t recall the Astroturf, mobs, fake, phony demonstration comments or tea parties referred to unkindly as tea baggers.

    Here is video of Obama ridiculing Tea Parties

    http://wizbangblog.com/content/2009/04/29/obama-ridicules-tea-party-protestors.php

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer call vocal protestors’ disruptions at those town hall meetings ‘simply un-American.’

    http://www.syracuse.com/today/index.ssf/2009/08/top_democrats_call_protestors.html#comments

    I few times I watch CNN or MSNBC I seen reference to calling opponents racist and saloon tends to agree. Just last night there was three on CNN saying person 1“you think opponents are against him because of his race”. Person2 “most of the opposition is from the South”. Person 3 “that is a shame we haven’t gotten past racism”.
    http://thesaloon.net/blog/_archives/2009/8/25/4300024.html

    How about the Goergian Rep that said they against Obama because they look like her

  20. An Interested Party says:

    re: Wayne | September 9, 2009 | 02:00 pm

    Were there not some people at some of those Teabagger (a term used by some in the movement) protests waving around tea bags? Your tender little feelings were really bothered by what the president said? His main point was correct that those who are opposed to his policies should at least work with him so that both sides can come to a compromise rather than making silly, incendiary noises about “death panels” and such…oh, and Pelosi and Hoyer didn’t call anyone “un-American”…rather, they described the activity of drowning out opposing views as “un-American”…as for the racism charge…so now we can judge a particular politician by the comments that any of his supporters make? I’m sure we could find some conservatives who believe that black people really are inferior and that slavery wasn’t such a bad thing…should we judge all conservatives on the basis of what a few of them think…

  21. Wayne says:

    AIP
    First you claim the President doesn’t belittle people then ask if I can’t take a little belittlement. Unlike liberals the point isn’t about me. I couldn’t care much less what you or the President calls me. My statement was about those who supported Obama in the election but don’t on two of his policies. You deny the left belittles opposition then make a statement like “making silly, incendiary noises about “death panels”. Again my above statement was pointing out why Obama is losing support. I’m not whining. In fact from a Republican’s election stand point I hope he keeps it up.

    Obama has a very odd way of reaching across the aisle.” Let’s compromise. Do it my way you partisan hacks because we will do it with you or without you”. Real good.

    Granted calling someone un-American and calling their actions un-American is not exactly the same but pretty damn close. How would you take someone saying “protesting a war”, “supporting Obama”, or “registering as a Democrat” as un-American? After all they not directly calling you un-American just your actions.

  22. An Interested Party says:

    What proof do you have that so many of the Teabaggers supported the president before and during last year’s elections? Of course both sides belittle their opposition and anyone who talks about “death panels” or questions where the president was born deserves to be belittled…the president isn’t losing support because he’s belittling Teabaggers…

    Obama has a very odd way of reaching across the aisle.” Let’s compromise. Do it my way you partisan hacks because we will do it with you or without you”.

    Another strawman…as the president has talked about working with Republicans such as making hints about pulling out the public option but what has the GOP done? Has that party offered an alternate plan? Have GOP leaders offered any constructive advice for any of the Democratic plans floating around Congress? Their policy seems to be “No, no, no” so who does he have to work with in the other party?

    How would you take someone saying “protesting a war”, “supporting Obama”, or “registering as a Democrat” as un-American?

    A faulty comparison, as those three things are not the same as drowning out opposing views…