Jamelle Bouie

Steady as He Goes

(White House/Flickr)
On Monday, a handful of polls came out that showed President Obama in a bad place, with flagging approval ratings and an unhappy public. I argued that those results had more to do with methodology than the actual mood of the public, but the conventional wisdom seems to be that, yes, Obama has a problem. Well, a new set of polls from Reuters and the Pew Research Center paint a different picture—Obama is doing well, and a majority of Americans want to see him reelected. According to the Reuters poll , taken from March 8 to 11, 50 percent of Americans approve of Obama’s performance, and 48 percent disapprove. What’s more, the percentage of Americans who say the economy is on the right track has increased to 37 percent, from 32 percent in February. The Pew poll is even more optimistic. In their survey, conducted during the same period, Pew found that 50 percent of Americans approved of President Obama. What’s more, in a head-to-head matchup, 54 percent said they would back Obama over...


There are no African Americans running for Senate or governor this year, and in my latest piece for The Prospect , I try to explain why. The idea that President Obama has anything to gain from replacing Joe Biden with Mayor Bloomberg is completely ridiculous. This is one of the best essays I’ve read about George R.R Martin and Game of Thrones . Check it out . I am a huge fan of electronic gadgets, and I understand the temptation of buying the newest thing. But for the most part, it’s not necessary . A young Jon Stewart interviews a young Quentin Tarantino, and it’s pretty great:

Santorum Is More Electable than He Looks

(Jamelle Bouie/The American Prospect)
Unemployment has declined nationwide, but as Reuters reports , the change has been greatest in swing states: Over the three years Obama has been in office, North Carolina and Florida also hit record high jobless rates, both reaching 11.4 percent two years ago. But in January 2012, North Carolina’s rate was the lowest since April 2009 and Florida’s the lowest since March 2009. In Colorado, another swing state, the jobless rate climbed to a record 9 percent at the end of 2010. By January, it had fallen to 7.8 percent, the lowest since March 2009. Swing state Iowa’s rate of 5.4 percent in January was the lowest since December 2008, as was Missouri’s 7.5 percent. New Hampshire’s January rate of 5.2 percent and Virginia’s 5.8 percent were the lowest since January 2009. Ohio, a swing state that proved crucial to President George W. Bush’s win in 2004, registered its lowest rate since November 2008, 7.7 percent. Pennsylvania lost jobs in February, but the overall improvement has been...

2012 Is a Real Big Deal

(Barack Obama/Flickr)
Ruth Marcus is bored by the 2012 presidential election and wants us to turn our attention to 2016 which, she argues, will be a lot more interesting: Enough about the 2012 election already. Let’s talk 2016, which promises to be far more interesting — and consequential. The precise contours of that election, of course, will be shaped by what happens this November. Yet either way, the 2016 campaign will be, much more than 2012, a battle for the ideological soul of one or both parties. Two things. First, for as much as political observers have a sports-like obsession with the back-and-forth of politics, it’s important to remember that there are stakes involved in the outcome of a presidential election. From the future of health-care reform and the welfare state, to the environment and foreign policy, presidential elections have a profound effect on the lives and livelihoods of countless people. That Marcus is bored with 2012 is a sign that she doesn’t take that seriously enough. That...

Democrats' Poisoned Chalice

(AP Photo/Eric Gay)
(AP Photo/Eric Gay) Republican presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum speaks during his election night party, Tuesday, March 13, 2012, in Lafayette, La. The pre-election polls for the Republican primaries in Alabama and Mississippi showed a close race. Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich were in a near-three-way tie for the first-place spot in both states, with Gingrich edging out his competitors in Mississippi, and Romney taking the slightest of leads in Alabama. That the former Massachusetts governor was even in the running for either state must have been a huge relief to his campaign. More than any other region, the Deep South is fiercely conservative and heavily evangelical—turf that Romney doesn't play well on. To stop Santorum in either state would have been to free the Romney campaign from the bloody slog of an extended nomination fight, allowing the candidate to establish himself definitively as the presumptive nominee. This prospect led to a...

Don't Panic

(Jim Linwood/Flickr)
This morning, I argued that President Obama’s poor performance in the New York Times /CBS News poll had more to do with the methodology of the survey than it did with any underlying change in Obama’s standing with the public. The Times oversampled partisan Republicans, and as such, guaranteed a skewed result. For further evidence of Obama’s stability, look no further than a trio of polls released today. According to Daily Kos/SEIU State of the Nation poll—conducted by Public Policy Polling—Obama’s approval is at an even 48 percent, with 49 percent disapproval. In the latest Rasmussen survey , Obama performs similarly, with 49 percent approval to 51 percent disapproval. And in the Gallup tracking poll , Obama has an approval rating of 47 percent to a disapproval rating of 46 percent. Overall, according to the Pollster average , Obama’s approval rating remains steady at 47 percent and some change. In other words, contra Chait , there hasn’t been a polling slump and the public isn’t...

Turnout Won't Be a Problem This Fall

(Barack Obama/Flickr)
At The Washington Post , Chris Cillizza suggests that, like the Republican Party, President Obama might have a turnout problem in the fall: A review of the states that have also held Democratic contests this year shows turnout is down sharply from the last time a Democratic president was running largely unopposed for renomination — 1996. Democratic turnout is down significantly in five of eight states that held similar contests in 1996 and 2012 (and where data are available), and six of eight overall, compared to Bill Clinton’s 1996 reelection campaign. In general, I’m skeptical that either party will have a turnout problem in the fall. As is almost always the case, partisans on both sides will close ranks when the general election rolls around, and the stakes become more clear. Indeed, the mere fact of having someone to run against will energize turnout, especially when it comes to Republicans, who are eager to drive President Obama from the White House. For now, I can’t blame...


This isn’t good news for Apple’s competitors in the tablet market: 84 percent of companies buying tablets say they will buy an iPad. Jonathan Bernstein explains , again, that we should expect variation in polls. Read this if you’re freaking out over yesterday’s New York Times /CBS News survey. Mitt Romney’s horrible performance with Latinos might put Arizona in play for President Obama. Somehow, the director of John Carter worked with the odd view that the character was still popular with the public at large. Not surprisingly, he was responsible for the film’s terrible marketing. And here is seven minutes of behind-the-scenes footage from The Hunger Games :

The Public Trusts Obama on Gas Prices

As of yesterday, the conventional wisdom on President Obama’s decline in the polls was that voters are punishing him for high gasoline prices. And while voters believe that the president has significant influence over the price of gas—which, for the record, isn’t correct —it’s also true that they haven’t left Obama on the issue. According to the latest Congressional Connection poll from National Journal and United Technologies, 44 percent of respondents trust Obama “to make the right decisions to help bring down the price of gasoline,” versus 32 percent for Republicans in Congress. This doesn’t disprove the conventional wisdom, but it does put a damper on the narrative that emerged out of yesterday’s polling. As for the National Journal poll, the obvious upside is that—because of voter ignorance—Obama will benefit if gas prices decline over the next several months. The obvious downside, by contrast, is that voters will actually begin to blame the president if gas prices continue to...

Is Obama Unpopular, or Have the Polls Gone Crazy?

(White House/Flickr)
Polling on the president has been a little weird lately. According to yesterday’s The Washington Post /CBS News poll, 46 percent of Americans approve of President Obama’s performance, while 50 percent disapprove. This is on the lower bound of polling for the president, but well within the range we’ve seen over the last several months. Likewise, over the weekend, Gallup found that Obama’s approval rating rose to 49 percent—mostly on the strength of last week’s job report, which saw the economy grow by 227,000 jobs. The New York Times and CBS News registered the most dramatic change in Obama’s standing with the public. In its poll, released yesterday, Obama’s approval rating dipped to 41 percent, the lowest since last summer, when the debt ceiling debacle damaged his standing with Democrats, Republicans, and independents. Jonathan Bernstein says that this is all statistical noise, while Jonathan Chait insists that there is something here; namely, that President Obama’s message—“America...

This Station Is Non-Operational

The Wall Street Journal explains why President Obama does not have any control over gas prices. Talking Points Memo dismantles Mitt Romney’s latest rhetoric on Medicare, where he simultaneously accuses Obama of cutting Medicare and not doing anything about the program’s long-term finances. In a surprising move, Twitter has purchased the blogging service Posterous as part of its expansion. It will be interesting to see what happens with this. Things I never expected to hear: that Topher Grace has created his own edit of the Star Wars prequels, and that it’s actually pretty good .

Mitt Romney Will Bury You

(Jamelle Bouie/The American Prospect)
That Mitt Romney has a massive war chest is obvious at this point, but on occasion, it still comes as a surprise to see how much he outspends his opponents. This chart from Buzzfeed shows the extent to which Romney has buried his competitors: This is one reason I’ve always been reluctant to predict success for any of Romney’s competitors in the Republican primary. The ability to spend this much money is a huge advantage, and while it doesn’t guarantee victory, the only challenge could come from someone with deep pockets, deep party support, a superior organization, or both. As it stands, Mitt Romney has been the only candidate to fit either bill, which is why it’s always been safe to bet on his eventual victory.


At The Washington Post , Brad Plumer challenges the notion that higher gas prices will sway the 2012 election. Just because the Republican Party is about to nominate Mitt Romney doesn’t mean that it has somehow become reasonable. I completely agree with Jonathan Bernstein that a blowout is still likely in November, even if the odds for Obama’s re-election (or Romney’s election) are 50-50. Alexander Hoffman has a nice take on why Apple dropped its numbering scheme for the new iPad. The new trailer for Game of Thrones season 2 is appropriately epic and, if I’m not mistaken, gives us a glimpse of Melisandre: The More You Love Trailer

Americans Still Support the Birth-Control Mandate

(Stacy Lynn Baum/Flickr)
To go back to The Washington Post poll for a moment, there is a little good news if the Obama administration is still fretting over its handling of the contraception mandate. By a margin of 61 percent to 35 percent, Americans believe that health insurers should be required to cover the full cost of birth control for women. This even extends to religious-affiliated employers—like hospitals—which were the focal point of the controversy. According to the poll, 79 percent of those who support the birth-control mandate also support it for religious-affiliated employers. Now that the controversy is over, for the most part, it’s obvious that this is good territory for the administration, and they should continue press their advantage. Already, as The New York Times reports , Republican missteps have created an opening for Obama to improve his standing with moderate and Republican-leaning women. Indeed, as the year goes on, I expect that this view will become a little more prevalent: “We all...

Interracial Marriage Is Still Controversial with Deep South Republicans

(Freedom To Marry/Flickr)
The thing to remember about the Republicans in Deep South states like Alabama and Mississippi is that they are mostly older, lily white, and very conservative. When you combine that with racial stratification and lingering resentment, it’s easy to see how 21 percent of Alabama Republicans and 29 percent of Mississippi Republicans would say that interracial marriage should be illegal, according to the latest poll from Public Policy Polling. Likewise, given the extent to which anti-Islam prejudice has made “Muslim” a stand-in for certain racial slurs, it’s not hard to see why 52 percent of Mississippi Republicans and 45 percent of Alabama Republicans would say that the president is a Muslim. In fairness to Republicans in both states, the GOP as a whole has a problem with correctly identifying Barack Obama’s place of birth. According to a January poll from YouGov, 37 percent of Republicans deny that Obama was born in the United States, while 35 percent aren’t sure: This comes after the...