I am always annoyed when I read a story mentioning the president that goes on to mention that he is "extremely popular". Of course, he's extremely popular. He hasn't even been president for a hundred yet. If he isn't extremely popular now, good luck with the rest of the four year term. The Real Clear Politics average has him at about 60-30%. That's very popular. It's also about as popular as most presidents at this point. Yet, I doubt that most news stories at this point mentioned that Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush were extremely popular presidents.
Here are some things that aren't mentioned when someone claims that President Obama is "extremely popular". Most of his signature policies aren't extremely popular. The bailouts aren't popular. His stimulus wasn't that popular. Cap and trade isn't that popular. The budget isn't that popular, and runaway deficits aren't that popular. Health care reform may turn out to be popular but we don't know yet since he hasn't given any details.
Here's another thing that these stories don't tell you. On more than one occasion, the Obama administration has attempted to unleash its army of supporters in support of one policy or another. Each and every time, those organizational efforts failed miserably. Early in his administration, they attempted to organize a series of house parties. Almost no one showed up. One weekend, My.barackobama.com tried to organize his army of supporters to knock on "one million doors" in support of his budget, and that was a miserable failure. Congress people on both sides said they saw absolutely no visible increase in communication in favor of the budget. So, his supposed groundswell of grassroots support has translated into bubkus when it comes to grass roots activism in favor of the president's actual policies.
There are several ways to view popularity. There is the strict popular and unpopular number. There is also the intensity of popularity. Rasmussen tracks not only the president's popularity but intensity as well. They track the difference between those that strongly favor the president and those that strongly oppose him. When he entered office, the difference was +28% strongly favor/strongly oppose. Now, it's +3. All those in the middle can easily be swayed. Someone that only mildly favors the president less than one hundred days into their term can easily oppose that same president very quickly.
Then, there's the tea parties. Nearly one million showed up. These rallies weren't merely anti President Obama rallies. They were, however, anti nearly every President Obama policy. Try and put this into perspective. Has any president ever faced such a visible, large, and well organized show of opposition to his policies this early in their presidency. Did nearly one million people protest Bush's tax cuts? Did nearly one million people protest Clinton's health care agenda? It isn't merely remarkable that the president's policies are so visibly being rejected by a grass roots effort. It should also be troubling. Nearly one million showed up to protest his agenda when he is "extremely popular". How many will show up when he is merely popular? How many will show up when he falls below 50%?
More than all of this, is something much more important. The president's supporters are more than willing to tell a pollster they like him. When it comes to heavy lifting of political activism, his supporters have absolutely no energy. A lot less people are willing to tell a pollster they don't like the job he's doing. Yet, when it comes to the hard work of political activism, those folks are energized to to show just how much they are against his policies.
That ought to give some perspective into the president's "extreme popularity".
Please check out my new books, "Prosecutors Gone Wild: The Inside Story of the Trial of Chuck Panici, John Gliottoni, and Louise Marshall" and also, "The Definitive Dossier of PTSD in Whistleblowers"