Thursday, April 19, 2012

President Obama As The Underdog?

Sean Trende has an important column that connects presidential job approval to reelection results. You really should read the whole thing, but here is the big take home point:
[I]ncumbent elections have historically looked more like referenda than choices, and so far, this election is looking like one as well. Voters who approve of the incumbent largely vote for him; those that do not approve of the incumbent vote for the challenger, except in extreme circumstances.  
This is exactly right, and something I have been discussing for some time now. It also points to why I think the conventional wisdom of President Obama being a heavy favorite for reelection is massively oversold

In fact, I’d argue that he is an underdog. For a simple reason: A majority of Americans do not think Obama is doing a good job, and they have thought that for a very long time.

Now, let’s be clear. It is not an overwhelming majority of Americans, not by any stretch. We are not in Nixon ’74, Carter ’79, or Bush ’08 territory with Obama. However, we have seen a durable 50-55 percent of Americans either disapprove or at least not approve of his job performance for quite a while.


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