As Republicans Bicker, Obama Looks Better


As the remaining Republican presidential candidates bicker, the contrast couldn't be more obvious.

In one corner, there's Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and Republican presidential candidate Sen, Ted Cruz of Texas, trading salvos in a social media flame war, moving further to the right to pander to the Republican base and seemingly competing with each other to say the most outrageous things.

On the other side is President Barack Obama, who just became the first president to touch down on Cuban soil in 80 years.

As Trump and Cruz continue their circus act, Obama has been burnishing his legacy. As Trump and Cruz argue over who has the better policy for keeping Muslims out of the country, Obama has been delivering resolute speeches on fighting terrorism. As Trump and Cruz argue over who has the more attractive wife, Obama's quoted in TIME magazine about how his daughters face pressure, like all young women, to meet certain aesthetic standards.

But the contrast isn't just about Obama's legacy, but it could also have a serious impact on the presidential election in November.

"This is potentially very significant for the November election because much research, including my own, has found that the president’s approval rating is a key predictor of the election results even when the president is not on the ballot," political scientist Alan Abramowitz of Emory University told Vox.

The American people have noticed too.

On March 25, Gallup, which keeps a running poll on presidential approval ratings, recorded a 53 percent approval rating for Obama. While that might not sound impressive, as the American Prospect's Paul Waldman notes, it's a solid number for a president serving out his last days during a hyper-partisan era.

"These days, and in all likelihood for some time to come, if a president can stay at 50 percent, he should be counted a remarkable success," Waldman wrote in an article for The American Prospect.

One might be tempted to think Obama is riding a wave of general optimism, but that only reveals more bad news for Republicans: while the president's approval ratings have been on the rise, approval ratings for the Republican-controlled congress keep sinking, MSNBC reported.

That's a big problem for Republicans. Usually this late in the game, Americans are suffering from the effects of party and president fatigue. After eight years of one president, voters are typically ready to make a change, and the political pendulum snaps back.

Not this time. Obama's approval ratings, and the rancor in the Republican primary race, suggest voters aren't suffering from party fatigue. That's very good news for Democratic presidential candidate and front runner Hillary Clinton, who suffers from her own problems with popularity among voters.

The worse the Republican primary gets, the better the Democrats look, and it's still a long road ahead until the Republican convention in July.

"Put simply, it's been an utter catastrophe for Republicans—and a marked contrast with the guy they're all vying to replace," Waldman wrote "Where Obama is calm and reasonable, the Republican candidates are shrill and panicky. Where he's thoughtful and informed, they're impulsive and ignorant."

Republicans should keep in mind that, while Obama won't be on the ballot in November, the general approval for the president could transfer over to Clinton, and sink the eventual GOP nominee.

Click here for the opposing view on this topic.

Sources: VoxMSNBC, American Prospect, GallupTIME / Photo credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

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