Tuesday, August 16, 2016

RIGHT TRACK - WRONG TRACK: It's All About Gridlock

I heard a respected political pundit the other day expressing confusion over the fact that the latest "Right Trak - Wrong Track" poll indicating widespread belief that the country was on the wrong track, in spite of the indications that the President's approval ratings continue to rank over 50% -- which is always a milestone for any President.

"Uhmmm," I said to myself, "it make perfect sense to me. I wonder why it's not obvious to him (the pundit)."

I decided to do a little research and found a recent July 17, 2016, article reporting on this perceived conundrum. According to the report on the lates Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll. . . 
"Some 73% in the new survey say things have gone off-course, with only 18% saying the nation is headed in the right direction. . . For the third straight month, 51% of voters say they approve of President Barack Obama’s job performance, his highest marks sincetaking the oath of office for a second time, in early 2013."
"Together, the two indicators mark a rare occurrence: Usually presidents and their party take the blame when Americans are unhappy. But while the nation is unified in dissatisfaction, many don’t see the party in power as its cause." July17, 2016 WSJ
The latest Bloomberg Politics Poll conducted by Selzer & Company, Aug. 5-8, 2016, indicates 68% wrong trak; 25% right direction; 7% unsure. During the first half of August, President Obama's approval rating has averaged 53.5% according to 4 separate polls.

I'm a political wonk so I watch and read a lot about the current Presidential campaign. I hear Donald Trump and his Republican surrogates constantly emphasizing the fact that nearly three-fourths of American's think the contry is on the wrong track. Thus, they imply -- it is obvious the people want a change in leadership at the top. When they're promoting their party or Presidential nominee, they rarely point out President Obama's high approval ratings. 

But wait a minute, why are people so dissatisfied with the direction of the country if the President's approval ratings are so high? Well, you have to look at couple of other poll numbers.

How about this one -- 14% approve of the job Congress is doing; 78% disapprove; and 9% are unsure. Monmouth U. RV poll 8/4/16. The highest figure this year for Congressional approval was 19%. Further, Democrats in Congress garnered a modest 37% approval while Republicans saw only a 20% approval.

It seems clear to me that people are not upset with the direction of the country because of President Obama – why would his approval rating be over 50%?. It doesn't even seem to be a highly partisan dissatisfaction – 37% approval is only moderately better than 20%, and not really anything to be terribly proud of. What’s so revealing is the combined Democrat-Republican rating of 14%.

You should be hearing bells and whistles about now. It’s not the leadership at the top that has the country so upset – it’s because of the complete and utter inaction and dysfunction in the U.S. Congress – it’s called Congressional gridlock and it is the root of the publics’ belief that the country is headed in the wrong direction (and that's what this blog is all about).

Timely related article in Real Clear Politics: "Will Right-Track/Wrong-Direction Numbers Help Trump?", By David Byler, August 18, 2016. Also, check out the revealing comments.

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