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Reports Of Democratic Discontent Greatly Exaggerated

Ed Kilgore is managing editor of The Democratic Strategist, a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute, and a frequent contributor to a variety of political journals.  

Since you'd get the general idea from news coverage that Democrats are at each other's throats, and are gravely dissatisfied with President Obama, it's always interesting to look at those few public opinion polls that supply breakouts not only by partisan self-identification but by sub-category or faction.

The headline on the latest national survey by Pew is the alarming "Obama's Ratings Slide Across the Board." What that actually means is that the President's job approval ratio has dropped from 61/30 in June to 54/34 today, hardly the stuff of apocalypse since Obama was elected by a margin of 53-46, which was considered a semi-landslide at the time.

But with all the talk of Democratic unhappiness, particularly among "moderates" and "Blue Dogs," with Obama's agenda, here's where rank-and-file Democrats stand on the President's job performance during the summer of their deep discontent:

Democrats as a whole--85/8 (down from 88/8 in June).
Conservative/Moderate Democrats--82/10 (down from 85/10 in June).
Liberal Democrats--95/5 (up from 93/4 in June).

Not exactly a collapse in support, eh?

Meanwhile, Gallup's tracking poll on Obama's job approval, which also shows a general decline in July, has him at 56% as of July 20-26. Among Democrats, his approval rating plunged all the way from 92% during the week of July 13-19, to 88% July 20-26.

And here are the ideological breakdowns:

Conservative Democrats--77% (down from 80% the previous week)
Moderate Democrats--86% (down from 91%)
Liberal Democrats--92% (down from 95%)

Keep in mind that we are in a period when pundits are saying that Barack Obama is "splitting with moderates" and "threatens to break the Democratic coalition." With 86% of self-identified moderate Democrats and 77% of self-identified conservative Democrats thinking that Obama's doing a good job, I'd say the reports of Democratic discontent and disunity are more than a bit exaggerated.

--Ed Kilgore

[Cross-posted from The Democratic Strategist]