Daniel Larison has a very interesting post up about the real reason for the president’s plummeting approval ratings. It has less to do with a conservative resurgence or alienated moderates than with discouragement among the Democratic base:
When we look at Gallup’s approval numbers and compare them with the presidential exit poll from 2008, we can begin to identify which demographic groups have disproportionately gone from being Obama voters to disapproving of his performance. By far, most of the largest slippage between November 2008 and now has come among core Democratic constituencies: women, liberals, and unmarried and secular voters.
Karl Rove was wrong about many things, but he was right that the way to win elections is to make sure more of your base than the other side’s base goes to the polls on election day. When your core voters are demoralized — as the Democrats’ were in 1994 and the Republicans’ were in 2008 — you lose. The polling is even worse for Obama than it would be if the GOP were making great gains among moderates, whose propensity to vote, and to vote for a given party, is limited. (That’s why they’re moderates.) Note that there are two reasons why a base gets discouraged: it doesn’t only happen when a president refuses to go far enough in his party’s ideological direction, it also happens when he goes as far as he can and the results are disappointing. Bush gave Republican voters most of what they wanted — lower taxes, more wars, and (however reluctantly) two antiabortion Supreme Court justices, as well as an effort at “privatizing” Social Security — but when none of this fixed the country’s problems, the GOP began to lose its grip, even on its own voters. Obama has not done what the Left would like in some arenas, particularly in foreign policy, and what he has done in healthcare hasn’t been working out the way the Left had hoped. The Republicans will feel similar dissapointment whenever the next get power. Both sides expect from politics something that politics cannot give.