Liberal Democrats Smiling Through the Insults

I can’t believe I didn’t offer this particular argument in my earlier post criticizing Brent Budowski’s column arguing that Obama’s “insults” to liberals might doom the Democratic Party in 2016–just as it did [sic!], since it’s one I made back in 2010 when there was abundant talk of a lefty primary challenge to the president. But here goes: if you look at Gallup’s presidential approval rating tracking poll, you will find that Obama’s current approval percentage among self-identified “liberal Democrats” is a not-too-shabby 88%. On the eve of the 2014 elections, which Budowski says Democrats lost badly in no small part because Obama had discouraged liberals, his rating among Liberal Democrats was 81%–not quite as high as today, but not a number that suggests some sort of voter boycott, is it? Truth is, the number has been oscillating in the 80s throughout his presidency, rising occasionally into the 90s. (At some point Gallup started requiring a subscription to get access to its full presidential approval rating database for Obama, so I can’t go back beyond 2014, but I’m pretty sure I’m right about that. In my December 2010 piece on the imaginary primary challenge, I reported at the time that Obama’s approval rating among Liberal Democrats was 85%–right after the midterm in which demographic supposedly took a walk out of anger at the self-same Obama).

So it looks as though liberal Democrats have found some way to smile through the tears of their hurt feelings at Obama’s insult and give him a positive job rating. Since they are already more prone to turn out to vote than less ideological folk, I think it’s safe to say their “discouragement” is more than a bit overrated by Budowski and others.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.