In the first major national poll since President Obama’s second inauguration, a new ABC News/Washington Post poll shows the president’s popularity reaching a three-year high – his 60% favorability rating is up 10 points since the summer, and the highest it’s been since November 2009.
The same poll asked respondents whether they approved of the president’s inaugural address, and by a two-to-one margin, Americans liked it just fine.
This is of interest because of the nature of the partisan pushback over the last week or so. Literally within hours of Obama’s speech last week, his Republican detractors complained that the president failed to strike a “conciliatory” tone to the right and neglected to do “outreach” to the GOP. A day later, Karl Rove’s attack operation, Crossroad GPS, released a video blasting the inaugural address as overly “liberal.”
Almost immediately thereafter, D.C. pundits piled on. Ron Fournier said Obama had been “fiercely partisan” and paid no mind to the “delicate art of compromise.” Michael Gerson heard a president argue “even the most commonplace policy disagreements indicate the bad faith of his opponents.” Dana Milbank was terribly disappointed that the president could have presented a “unifying” message, but didn’t.
The message from the Beltway to the public was simple: Obama, freed from the burdens of re-election, has become a meaner, fiercer ideologue pushing an aggressively liberal agenda. Hoping to mock the president, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) declared, “The era of liberalism is back.”
Except, at least at this point, the public doesn’t seem to mind. The president’s “fiercely partisan” speech was well received by the American mainstream and Obama’s favorability ratings have gone up, not down.