I can't put my finger on any single event that may be the cause, but in three days, Obama's approval ratings on Rasmussen's daily tracking poll have gone from 50-49, to 45-54. Among those who feel strongly either way, there has been a drop from 32-40, to 27-44.
Forty-four percent ties the peak Obama has ever hit for strongly disapprove. In general, Rasmussen numbers have been more volatile since health care reform was approved.There are days in which Obama's approval numbers are much higher than the average for the prior few months, and other periods when his numbers sink to near the levels they were before health care reform was passed.
Rasmussen says Democrats now feel more strongly positive about Obama, which makes sense, but that independents and Republicans are as negative, if not more negative about Obama than they were before the bill was passed.
With Rasmussen showing opposition to the health care bill at 58% (support at 38%), and the generic ballot showing a 9% advantage for Republicans among likely voters, it is shapes up as a very good year for Republicans. Other surveys are now confirming a GOP advantage in the generic ballot, with one Democratic pollster showing the number at 5%, and Gallup showing a 4% GOP edge, both with a registered voters screen, which has tended to understate GOP support levels historically, and especially this year with much greater enthusiasm among voters on the right.
The analysts who look at all the House and Senate races (Cook, Rothenberg), are increasing their estimates of GOP pickups, and like Nate Silver of fivethirtyeight.com, see the prospect of a wave that would result in heavy Democratic losses, endangering Democratic control in the House, and putting a half dozen or more Democratic Senate seats at risk.
We are still more than six months from Election Day, and the results will depend to a significant extent on the levels of financing for individual candidates, and the relative attractiveness of the incumbents and the challengers.
On the Senate front, this last week had some bad news for the GOP, as George Pataki and Tommy Thompson elected not to run for the Senate in New York and Wisconsin, respectively. Both men appeared to be the strongest GOP contenders in the field in these states. So too, Governor Charlie Crist in Florida, facing a landslide defeat in the GOP primary against Marco Rubio, appears to be setting himself up for a run as an independent, after vetoing an important school reform bill, which he initially favored, that would have ended the automatic granting of tenure to nearly 100% of teachers after but three years on the job, and introduced a merit pay system. Crist appears to be following the model of Arlen Specter, who abandoned the GOP, and became a Democrat, providing the 60th vote for health care reform. Specter also faced a defeat in the GOP primary before the switch.
Ed Lasky adds:
The Wild card is the economy; especially employment numbers and perception of the tax increases at all government levels to come. The idea that taxes are going to reward public sector employees is gaining a great deal of traction, helped along by unions obduracy in making their fair share of sacrifices (even the Boston Globe has been harsh towards teachers' unions).