President Obama gets low marks from Americans on… pretty much everything, really. And yet he remains personally popular. Politico‘s Ben Smith looks at the numbers and says:
As I’ve written before, this puts the lie to the notion that we live in a time of unusually widespread personal loathing of the president — though obviously some people hate him intensely. It also suggests the origins of the approach you hear from Republicans like Jeb Bush and Bobby Jindal, and one I heard from Romney yesterday: Obama’s not a bad guy, he’s just totally out of his depth.
That number presages two things for the fall: First, things can still get worse for the president. One personal scandal or account of presidential pique could drive his numbers down further. Second, the temptation to make the election a personal choice and to run against a Republican’s character, not his policies — playing to the incumbent’s strength — will be close to irresistible.
But there’s a question here Smith didn’t bother himself with. And that is: Can Obama keep his personal popularity after going from “hope and change” to “Rottweiler-in-cheif.” That’s a tough act to pull off. In fact, I can’t think of any President who’s managed to do it.