I'm sorry to the Obama supporters on here, but when 43 percent of independents "Strongly Disapprove" not just disapprove of Obama's job performance you just can't expect to pull out a narrow win with whats left.
I don't really think you can find a period of time where a politician was up for reelection with strong disapprovals like this. Basically, what it is saying is that 40% of the country doesn't just want you gone, they hate your guts. Another 10-20% just doesn't like you. And the people on the other side aren't particularly enthusiastic about you.
The margin for error when the country is lined up like that against you is almost to thin that its extremely improbable to make it through a campaign season without losing a little more support because you certainly aren't gaining any more support.http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/post/opposition-to-obama-grows--strongly/2011/10/04/gIQAlch2ML_blog.html
And this is why you never count your chickens before they've hatched. You end up with hilarious in hindsight threads like this one. lol
What happens is that people see one statistic, misjudge it as the key, and ignore other facts.
1. Nate Silver established that it is a great myth that incumbent politicians need 50% approval before the electoral campaign begins to have a real chance of winning. For an incumbent who got elected the first time, the average campaign moves the approval rating up about 6% to a vote share in a binary election, which is ordinarily enough with which to win if one's approval ratings before the campaign season are above 44%. http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2010/02/myth-of-incumbent-50-rule.html
It applies in huge numbers to Senators and Governors. Because most incumbent Presidents were Senators or Governors, it probably applies to the President as well.
It's easy to understand why a politician with a 52% share of the vote might quickly see his approvals diminish to 46% or so once the campaign ends and the politics of legislating or governing begin. Most political choices are split around 50-50, and few elected officials get to offer new policies with anything like 65% approval. Such policies usually get enacted long before they have 65% approval -- like when they get 52% approval. When gay rights got about 52% approval, Barack Obama went with it.
Opponents, including potential opponents in the next election, carp at will about the incumbent and get much publicity. They get away with it until the electoral campaign begins, and all of a sudden the opponent starts getting scrutiny for the content of his criticism. About then the incumbent gets to show either why he was elected in the last election or that electing him was a mistake.
If campaigns for re-election did not matter, then politicians would invariably set themselves above the campaign and win re-election with no effort. Such was so with Dwight Eisenhower in 1956, winning in a near-blowout while doing little campaigning. But Dwight Eisenhower saw campaigning more of a risk than a reward, and chose not to go for a 49-state blowout. He won 43 states. He was that good as President.
Barack Obama had to campaign in 2012, and he campaigned enough to win.
2. Campaigns matter, which explains why appointed pols do not fare as well as those already elected to the job in electoral campaigns. An appointed pol (Hickenlooper in 2010) needs approval near 50% to win re-election. It also explains why Gerald Ford did not get re-elected.
Ford had never run for any statewide office and had no idea of how to run a Presidential campaign because he had never run for Governor of Michigan or US Senator from Michigan. He liked his role in the House of Representatives. He failed to manage campaign resources (including personal appearances) effectively, and was the last Republican to lose such states as Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, and South Carolina in a Presidential bid -- in a very close election.
3. The odd case of former Senator George Allen, who lost a re-election bid for the Senate in 2006 despite starting with approval slightly above 50%, demonstrates not so much a failure of Silver's model but instead what can go catastrophically wrong. Allen
- (1) faced an unusually-strong challenger. James Webb was a strong challenger -- one much stronger than the usual opponent of an entrenched Governor or Senator. He well fit the sensibilities of a state drifting D.
(2) was tied to an unpopular President. Dubya wasn't particularly unpopular at the start of 2006, but by November he was widely despised for failures. Allen was closely attached to the GOP Establishment and became vulnerable for that alone.
(3) ran a horrid campaign. Under normal circumstances an incumbent gains some, but Allen was slightly ahead until the last couple of weeks. Then some of his campaign staffers roughed up a heckler. That doomed him, and Silver's model cannot predict something like that.
OK -- so what about wave elections as the political climate shifts? If America is going right-wing as shown in mass rallies (2010) or with a right-wing religious revival (1980) the model probably catches the trend.
OK -- an incumbent Governor or Senator could fall to a breaking scandal -- right? Not quite. Corruption usually forces secretiveness by a politician, and secretiveness is not good for getting elected or re-elected. Add to that, the news media know things about politicians in trouble that they dare not release until they get corroboration, but individual journalists know enough to avoid plugging politicians who might be subject to a breaking scandal. The same Illinois media that plugged Senator Barack Obama while he was in one of the usual penultimate postings before the President did not do the same with Governor Rod Blagojevich. Obama was squeaky-clean; Blagojevich was a corrupt Illinois machine pol who eventually got caught trying to sell an appointment to the US Senate seat that Barack Obama held. Blagojevich was in political trouble before the scandal broke. Switch the offices, and 'Senator Blagojevich' sells his affiliation to the Democratic Party for a million dollars to switch to the GOP and gets defeated in a re-election bid in 2010 to a Democrat, and 'Governor Obama' is in a good position to be elected President in 2012 after reporting a lame-brained bid to buy an appointed Senate seat to the FBI.
Political journalists are either the best friends of a politician's career or the ones who grease the skids. They ride waves that they like and jump off the bad ones. News coverage may explain why some politician has 40% approval a year before the next election and another has 47% approval.