According to the new CNN/Opinion Dynamics poll, confidence is growing among Americans that President Obama’s policies will move the nation in the right direction. 55% of those surveyed believe that Obama will lead us in the right direction compared to 51% who believe that Republican policies will lead the US in the WRONG direction. Most importantly, the poll revealed that Obama, not the GOP is being given the political credit for the tax cut deal.
According to the CNN poll, Obama’s job approval rating is still holding steady at 48%. His disapproval rating is down two points from last month to 48%. What has to be encouraging for Obama and the White House is the rebound in the confidence of the American people in Obama’s policies to lead the country in the right direction. The confidence in Obama to lead the country in the right direction is at its highest level since May. Just as important is the 7 point drop, down to 42%, in the belief that Obama’s policies will lead the nation in the wrong direction.
On the other hand, the Republican electoral victories in November have not translated into faith in GOP policies. 51% of those surveyed believed that Republican policies will lead America in the wrong direction. Only 44% felt that GOP policies would put America back on the right path. Advocacy on two particular issues damaged the Republicans. While 75% of those polled supported the Bush tax cut compromise, 62% opposed an extension of the tax cuts for those making over $250,000, and 59% opposed a reduction in the estate tax.
The parts of the compromise that Obama argued for have turned out to be the most popular parts of the bill. 89% favored tax cuts for people making less than $250,000. 76% favored extending unemployment benefits for the jobless, and 62% favored a one year reduction in the Social Security tax. While the tax cut deal appears to have cost the President a bit of support among liberals, his approval rating has fallen to 72% with them, among moderates his approval rating jumped to 60%.
What this means is that the drum of compromise that Obama has been beating for two years resonated with the American people. It turns that America was paying attention while Senate Republicans were obstructing everything last year. Republicans appear to be struggling to shed their Party of NO image, as Obama is seen as the force behind the compromise, and he is getting all of the political credit for the tax cut deal. The White House is more than happy to trade a small decline in liberal support for increased support from moderates. Since there are more moderates in the country than liberals, they are a key bloc of voters for Obama in 2012.
The other key point to be taken from this is that those on the left who forecasted that the tax cut compromise would equal political doom for Obama were completely wrong. No one is going to vote against Obama because he cut taxes. Politically this compromise is a windfall for Obama, and I believe that he is only beginning to see the benefits of his move to the middle. Obama could be heading into 2012 with high personal popularity (around 73%), and belief among voters that his policies are the right direction for America. Contrary to being doomed, President Obama looks to be putting himself in a great position to win a second term.