Forget the polar vortex. It’s the polarized vortex that should worry the White House these days. Based on a tracking poll of 175,000 people, Gallup reveals that the partisan divide in President Obama’s favorability ratings is, well, stunning. Currently, 82 percent of Democrats give him the thumbs up, compared with 11 percent of Republicans. Four of Mr. Obama’s years in office rank as the most polarized on record, Gallup says, and they have been tallying the dismal results since the Eisenhower era.
Things were divided during President George W. Bush’s tenure as well. Four of his years in office rank in the top 10 most polarized years, the pollster says.
“Obama is on course to have the most politically polarized approval ratings of any president, with an average 69-point gap during his presidency, a full eight points higher than was the case with Bush,” says analyst Jeffrey Jones. “There have always been party differences in presidential ratings, but these have become more extreme in recent decades, averaging 34 points before Reagan’s presidency and 58 points after.”
But it appears that polarized opinion is now a given.
“Both Obama and Bush made overtures toward bringing politically divided Americans together, but the evidence suggests neither succeeded,” Mr. Jones notes. “That said, it is not clear that presidents will be very successful in gaining significant support from the opposition party, regardless of what they do in the current political environment.”
AND THE REASON FOR POLARIZATION
Well, one has to blame somebody. “There is a Republican base of voters for whom compromise with me is a betrayal,” President Obama says in a New Yorker interview released Thursday.
“And that — more than anything, I think — has been the challenge that I’ve needed to overcome. Another way of putting it, I guess, is that the issue has been the inability of my message to penetrate the Republican base so that they feel persuaded that I’m not the caricature that you see on Fox News or Rush Limbaugh, but I’m somebody who is interested in solving problems and is pretty practical, and that, actually, a lot of the things that we’ve put in place worked better than people might think.”
FOR THE LEXICON
— From Fort Worth Star Telegram columnist Bud Kennedy, referring to Texas state senator and gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis and her embellished biography.
“Wendy Davis is bigger than Texas now, and so are her mistakes,” Mr. Kennedy explains. “If Republicans can’t keep their hold on Texas, they’ll never win back the White House. So every Davis misstep or misfire becomes early national campaign fodder for 2016.”
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POLL DU JOUR