A Pew examination of presidential poll numbers revealed that intense Republican hatred of President Obama weighs down his job approval numbers.
According to Pew Research:
Views of the president among members of the opposing party have become steadily more negative over time. Our 2014 report on political polarization documented this dramatic growth in partisan divisions over views of presidential job performance. Over the course of Obama’s presidency, his average approval rating among Democrats has been 81%, compared with just 14% among Republicans.
During Eisenhower’s two terms, from 1953-1960, an average of 49% of Democrats said they approved of the job the Republican president was doing in office. During Ronald Reagan’s presidency, an average of 31% of Democrats approved of his job performance. And just over a quarter (27%) of Republicans offered a positive assessment of Clinton between 1993 and 2000. But the two most recent presidents – George W. Bush and Obama – have not received even this minimal level of support.
These numbers confirm a suspicion that Republican Obama hate is throwing off the polls. President Obama isn’t as unpopular with the country at large as he is with Republicans. Obama’s job approval ratings are being weighed down by the fact that he gets nearly half the support from self-identified Republicans that Bill Clinton did. The idea that Republicans impeached Clinton and tried to throw him out of office, but still got more of their support than President Obama is a real mind blower.
Even if one tries to account for the increased level of polarization in politics by assigning the president 20% approval rating from Republicans, the difference in Obama’s approval rating would be dramatic. The president would go from a 48%-50% approval rating to something more in the neighborhood of 54%-56%.
The Republican hatred of Obama is so intense that it is difficult for pollsters to get an accurate reading on the president’s true level of popularity. The extreme intensity of the opposition prohibits a good read on where the president stands in the court of public opinion, but it does illustrate the degree to which our national politics has become polarized.
Irrational Republican hatred of Obama is making it impossible to accurately compare polls. This doesn’t mean that the polls are wrong, but that the Obama polling is more accurately measuring polarization than the president’s job performance.