With the many, many polls out there right now on President Obama's approval rating, we thought we'd add to the chatter with one that hasn't gotten much attention but has some rather revealing data on how and why the president’s favorability is slipping among independents.
With the many, many polls out there right now on President Obama's approval rating, we thought we'd add to the chatter with one that hasn't gotten much attention but has some rather revealing data on how and why the president’s favorability is slipping among independents. A new Clarus Research Group survey charts Obama's approval rating under 50 percent by a point and even lower among independents—43 percent. We know Obama’s support among independents has been eroding from previous polls, but Clarus’ survey has an interesting graphic on why it’s happening. It shows that strong majorities of independents have issues with the direction Obama is taking the country. Nearly half don't think Obama is clearly explaining his policies. According to Clarus, this is how independents described Obama: 86 percent: "Very intelligent" 77 percent: "Eventually going to raise taxes to pay for his programs" 69 percent: "Trying to do too much too fast" 64 percent: "Wants government to do too many things" 61 percent: "Spends to much money" 58 percent: "Honest and truthful" 53 percent: "Strong leader who knows what he's doing" 47 percent: "Does not clearly explain his policies" 41 percent: "Doing right things to fix economy" 39 percent: "Not ready to be president" 34 percent: "Keeping all his promises" Clarus' president, Ronald Faucheux, was struck particularly by the number of independents who don't think Obama is doing a good enough job laying out his policies. "What it tells me is that there is a sense that coming from healthcare people are reacting against the complexity of his approach and lack a clear understanding of what they are doing," he said. In addition to providing explanations, Faucheux said, "the policies themselves, the substance, need to be simpler and easier to explain." (Full disclosure: Faucheux was formerly the editor and publisher of Campaigns & Elections.) Perhaps the White House's polling shows the same thing since news broke over night that Obama is planning an address to discuss his principles for healthcare reform in the coming weeks. Clarus also tested how Obama performs against potential 2012 GOP candidates Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich and Mike Huckabee. Obama beats them all handily. Mitt Romney performs best, losing by nine points, and Sarah Palin performs worst, losing by 19 points. (Most talked about Republican hopeful of the week, Tim Pawlenty, wasn’t included.) But Obama didn't win among independents in all those hypothetical match ups. Romney won independents 42 percent to 40 percent and Huckabee carried them 41 percent to 40 percent.Jeremy P. Jacobs is a staff writer at Politics Magazine. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org