54% of Americans believe his policies have been mostly liberal while 34% call them mostly moderate. There were also 7% of the public that need to get back on their meds, because they feel that Barack Obama's policies have been mostly conservative. This contrasts with public expectations right after Obama's election a year ago, when as many expected him to be moderate as to be liberal.
"While most Americans say it is important to them that President Obama keep the promises he made during the campaign (82%), far fewer, 48%, currently believe he has done so."
This finding comes from a USA Today/Gallup survey, conducted Oct. 16-19, which offers several indications that Obama's public image has changed since his election last November. Much of that change is inauspicious for Obama.
Perhaps related to the re-evaluation of Obama's ideological orientation, fewer Americans today than in April say Obama is keeping the promises he made during the campaign.
While most Americans say it is important to them that President Obama keep the promises he made during the campaign (82%), far fewer, 48%, currently believe he has done so. This represents a slide in support for the president on this measure since April, when nearly two-thirds of Americans (65%) said he was keeping his promises.
The decline in the percentage saying Obama has kept his promises is seen among all three major parties, dropping from 92% to 77% among Democrats, from 54% to 41% among independents, and from 45% to 22% among Republicans. To some degree, of course, the longer a president serves, the more opportunities there are for people to see him as breaking promises, which may account for some of this shift since the early months of Obama's presidency.
A majority of Americans (56%) say it is very important to them that Obama keep his promises and another 26% call this somewhat important. A much smaller 16% say that keeping his word is either not that important to them or not important at all.
Dampened Favorable Rating a Key Indicator
Obama's favorable rating, now 55%, is a more fundamental indicator of the post-election change in his image. Immediately after the election, 68% of Americans viewed Obama favorably. The figure rose to 78% around the time of his inauguration and registered in the mid- to high 60s from March through July. However, an early October Gallup survey showed the figure dropping to 56%, similar to the latest finding.
A comparison of the July and October ratings shows that Obama's image has fallen the most among Republicans and independents. While Gallup sees less change among Democrats, the finding that fewer than 90% now view Obama favorably (and 11% view him unfavorably) is noteworthy.
Among Democrats by ideology, Obama's favorability rating has fallen mostly among moderate Democrats, from 97% to 84%, with a smaller dip among conservative Democrats, 78% to 72%. It has held steady at 97% among liberal Democrats.
This erosion of support for Obama among moderate Democrats (as well as among Republicans and independents) may correspond with the increasing percentage of Americans perceiving that Obama is governing from the left.
President Obama is not enjoying the same broad appeal and centrist image that he did in the afterglow of his election last November. Although a majority of Americans continue to view him favorably, this percentage has declined. The common perception that he would govern as a moderate has given way to a heightened belief that Obama's policies are mostly liberal. (Interpreted in the light of Americans' generally conservative leanings, this could be a problem for Obama politically.) And whereas in April most Americans believed he was sticking to the promises he made during the campaign, fewer than half now say that's the case.
These findings are reinforced by Obama's subdued job approval rating, which has been consistently tracking in the low 50s over the last several months. They also conform with Gallup findings reported earlier this week indicating that, compared to a year ago, Americans have generally lost hope that Obama can heal political divisions in the country or control federal spending, and are less optimistic about his ability to accomplish a number of other important goals.
As long as Obama's overall job approval rating remains above 50%, these setbacks would seem to be tolerable in a political sense -- perhaps indicating nothing more than the cost of bold leadership at a difficult time for the country. But should he fall well below that important threshold in public support over a sustained period, the findings may point to weaknesses Obama may need to address.