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November 15, 2013 10:51 AM A Year Is Forever in Politics

By Ed Kilgore

I noted this briefly yesterday at Lunch Buffet, but it’s interesting, if not particularly surprising, that the zeitgeist which held a couple of weeks ago that the damage done to the GOP by its responsibility for the government shutdown and debt limit crisis probably wouldn’t last until the midterm elections, now holds that the Obamacare rollout issues will haunt Democrats for decades, maybe centuries, to come.

At Ten Miles Square, Jonathan Bernstein tries to regain some perspective:

Obama’s popularity is probably at the low point of his presidency (again, depending on the adjustments, he’s either a bit below or a bit above his previous low. But it’s not any kind of unusually low low point (he’s nowhere near Truman, Carter, Nixon, W.), there’s no particular reason to expect the slump to continue, and myths aside no reason to believe he won’t recover if the news turns better. Granted, it’s hard to know what to expect from healthcare.gov, but it’s not as if it’s getting worse over time. I’m not saying his numbers will go up. Just that it’s more or less equally likely as further drops….
As for electoral effects? I wrote an item dismissing direct electoral effects of the shutdown against Republicans back last month; that post pretty much works now, in reverse for effects against Democrats. I should say: it’s far easier for sentiment against the president to translate into midterm electoral losses than it is for feelings against the out-party. So if Obama is unpopular in November 2014, it will hurt Democrats. But today’s frenzy about the ACA is going to be mostly forgotten by then, one way or another, just as the shutdown seems forgotten today. That’s probably even true, believe it or not, if the program totally collapses, although I don’t think that’s going to happen.
Anyway, Obama’s approval ratings have in fact fallen from the mid-40s to the low-40s, and over the course of the year from around 50 to the low 40s. It’s obviously not good news for him, but it seems a lot less dramatic than a lot of the chatter this week would have it be.

So far, that’s absolutely true. No telling what we’ll all be obsessing about a month from now, much less this time next year.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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