A new Reuters/Ipsos Poll shows President Barack Obama’s job approval rating among independents dropped sharply when compared to last month’s rating. According to the poll, the president’s approval rating fell a precipitous 10 percent. Could it spell trouble for his re-election?
Due possibly to rising gas prices and his handling of the unrest situation in the Middle East (which is a causative factor in rising crude oil and gas prices), his approval rating fell slightly (2 percent, from 51 to 49). But the poll showed the most significant drop in approval among independents. If the poll is not anomalous, such a drop might prove problematic for the President’s reelection chances.
Back in 2008, moderates from both political parties began unaligning themselves with their favored or traditional parties and, by the time the 2008 national election rolled around, many thought independents controlled the outcome. It was broadly assumed going into the election that independents would carry the day for Obama.
But that didn’t happen. President Obama won by 7 percent of the popular vote. At the same time, Gallup reported he only carried 51 percent (19 million) of independent voters that voted for him or Sen. John McCain. The difference is less than a million voters altogether, which is negligible when considering Obama won the presidential election by more than 8.5 million voters all told, primarily due to the massive turnout among Democratic voters.
By the time the incumbent president took office in January 2009, his overall approval rating was 69 percent, which is a full 20 points higher than it stands at present. If taken to the extension that they are indicative of how individuals would vote in an upcoming election, those ratings could portend a far closer race or even a losing contest for the incumbent.
The numbers might be more worrisome for the president were it closer to the 2012 election or if other polls corroborated the fall in approval ratings. Although the Reuters/Ipsos Poll isn’t the only poll indicating a drop in approval, it is the only one showing such a steep decline.
Gallup, which daily tracks the president’s approval rating, showed Obama at 43 percent approval among independents during the same time frame, down only 2 percent from a month ago (and still up by a point over January) with a 46-46 split on overall approval and disapproval ratings. Rasmussen displayed a 52-47 disapproval-over-approval gap for the same period (ending March 6), numbers that have remained somewhat consistent since September 2009.