There has been speculation that the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to the president on Friday is behind the bump in his numbers, but this doesn’t explain his improvement in other polls taken over the past week. CBS, AP, and McClatchy all have released polls that show Obama’s job approval rating at 56%.
The answer can be found by looking at the approval numbers for his handling of the economy and healthcare. As the economy starts to improve, so do Obama’s numbers. The moved from 50%-54% approval on the economy in the CBS News poll over the past month. In the AP poll, Obama moved 44% to 50% approval on the economy, and the McClatchy poll found that the number of people who are becoming more pessimistic about the economy is declining.
The opposition to the Democratic healthcare reform proposal appears to have lost steam, as in the CBS poll, the number of people who support reform remains at the same 47% that it was in September, but the people who oppose reform has declined by 3% to 42%. The AP poll also reveals a jump in support for healthcare reform to 48%.
The point is that Obama can get all the prizes and awards in the known universe, and it won’t matter. His approval ratings, like any other president, are being driven by the economy. If the economy continues to improve, so will Obama’s approval ratings. I believe that the healthcare debate will have no lasting political impact for the president.
He will get another bump upwards in his numbers after he signs the healthcare reform bill, but in terms of pocketbook politics, any potential legislation won’t take effect until 2013, so while it may motivate the Republican base in 2010, it is not going to have legs with the broader electorate in 2012.