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The Obama Touch – He’s No Midas

The Midas Touch. Very few people have it. Off the top of my head I think of: Steve Jobs, Warren Buffet, and Phil Jackson. Wherever they go, and whatever they do, they succeed. Most people don’t. The first person I think of: Barack Obama. Following his meteoric climb to the presidency he has become political poison to nearly everything he has come into contact with.

The “Obama Touch” begain with the New Jersey Gubernatorial race. The President campaigned heavily for the Democratic incumbent John Corzine in a state that should have been a lock regardless of his cameo.  A deep-pocketed incumbent in a blue state that Obama won by 16% up against an underfunded Republican who didn’t even run a great campaign. But five appearances and a slew of quotes like “[Corzine] is one of the best partners I have in the White House” later, Democrats had lost the governor’s mansion.

Same story, same result in Massachusetts where Martha Coakley fell from a 17% lead in the polls to be defeated by an upstart Republican candidate. Obama was there as well, campaigning for Coakley when the race was a statistical dead heat, hoping his popularity would save the day in the land of Kennedy’s. It didn’t. By the time Obama left, Scott Brown had established a firm 9% lead over the Democrat.

He called the 19-0 Kentucky basketball team to congratulate them on their “Hoops for Haiti” program. They promptly lost. He made countless speeches and appearances to spread the word about health care reform. It’s looking more dead by the day. He wanted to pass a comprehensive energy and environmental reform bill. Then came “Climategate” and an ongoing investigation into the science of global warming. Tough year.

A new Gallup poll shows the depth of the Obama Touch,

Issue Approval Obama’s lowest job approval ratings come in the areas of healthcare policy, the economy, and the federal budget deficit, which coincidentally are the three issues he has devoted the most face-time to. To some degree, this is exactly as you would expect it. The President can be seen as devoting his popularity in an attempt to rally support for unpopular portions of his agenda. It wouldn’t make sense for him to expend all of his political capital to hammer home issues that people already agree with. But this would overlook a key point behind these latest poll numbers – almost all of them represent Obama’s lowest popularity on the issue since he became President.

The more he tries to sell health care, the more people refuse to buy into it:

Healthcare Approval

The more he says he’s going to work to fix the economy, the less people believe him:

Economy Approval

What the President and Congressional Democrats must understand is that it’s nothing personal. Although it certainly cannot be said that he has the Midas Touch, it is not Obama’s mere association that is dragging candidates and policies into the abyss. It’s that Obama’s attempts to emphasize an issue are acting to highlight the flaws in the Democrats plans. People learned that although health care reform sounds great, any attempt that fails to bend the cost-curve is kinda pointless. People figured out that Obama’s plan to fix the economy, well…wait, what is Obama’s plan to fix the economy?

The Obama Touch, anything he touches suffers an immediate drop in approval ratings. But it’s a curable disease. Step 1: under-promise and over-deliver. Step 2: consult with Republicans – they have ideas that will surprise you. Step 3: align your policy goals with the public – i.e. GET MOVING ON THE ECONOMY!

- Brandon Greife, Political Director of the College Republican National Committee

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