Well, that may be unfair: as Andrew Malcolm notes, if Obama hadn’t spent the last month trying to convince people that his 3.6 trillion dollar budget was a good idea it might have slipped even further than the recent Gallup poll shows that it has. Which means that he’s saved or created – what? Five, six points on the polls?
Looking at the poll itself, it’s interesting to see how an outside-the-margin of error result can be framed as ‘holding steady.’ 46/26/30 for/against/don’t know enough last month versus 39/27/33 this month, and support for it has slipped down the Republican/Democratic/Independent line. Although possibly the most embarrassing part of this whole thing for the administration is that the aforementioned media blitz – personal, online, televised, radioed, phone called, and for all I know, messenger pigeoned – didn’t have a better than a margin-of-error effect on the American public’s awareness of the issue. Admittedly, they were already pretty aware, but the Obama administration was looking for a win here, not a no-decision.
Analyzing the results: while neither the supporters or the opponents of the administration’s budget are in a position to claim a popular mandate for their position, the former are in a worse tactical place than the latter. People don’t much like the idea of spending insanely large amounts of money when the economy’s on the verge of collapse, and right now the country’s about three bad days in a row away from assuming precisely that. The Obama administration would be better off – a lot better off – if it would just accept at this point that most of the President’s domestic policy plans were crafted under the assumption that the Dow would be somewhere around 11K and that consumer confidence wouldn’t be at single digits. Of course, the consequences of that would mean slashing the budget, which would infuriate most of his truly hardcore supporters and possibly even cost him the next election – but it’d be better for the country, and that’s really supposed to be his main motivation.
Besides, this way he’d avoid Jimmy Carter’s fate of being cursed behind his back by his own party apparatus at every opportunity.