His personal favorability, once a strong point for Obama, has vanished and is now being replaced by a personal dislike that is dragging him down.
These data, buried deep in the latest NY Times/CBS poll (of registered voters, not likely voters) are both stark and important. In April, Obama had a 42-45 favorable/unfavorable rating, itself a shock given his vastly higher favorable ratings only a few months before. Now, he has a favorable rating of only 36% and an unfavorable rating of 48%.
The NY Times poll showed Romney getting 47% of the vote compared to 46% for Obama (again, this poll is of registered voters, likely voter polls are more pro-Romney). So that means that one-quarter of Obama’s voters do not give him a favorable rating – a danger sign for the president.
What is most notable about this statistic is that it is not due primarily to the bad economy. While the Times poll showed that the percent of voters who feel he is doing a good job in handling the economy has dropped to 36%, Obama’s ratings in this category have been low for some time. The drop in favorability is new.
Rather the cause of his decreased likeability is his negative campaigning, both in person and on the air. He is now no longer the sunny, optimistic, friendly person he portrayed himself as being in 2008. Instead, a nasty, surly, angry image has taken over.
This change is at the heart of Obama’s dilemma. The more he goes negative, the more he hurts himself in the process and undermines the reservoir to good will that has sustained him through tough economic times.
As recently as one year ago, Obama’s personal favorability was ten points above his vote share in most polls. Now it is ten points below it presaging further a likely further drop in his poll numbers.