POLITICS
11/15/2013 05:00 pm ET | Updated Nov 15, 2013

HUFFPOLLSTER: What Does Obama's Approval Rating Mean For 2014?

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Speculation begins about how Obama's job approval might impact the 2014 elections. HuffPost's Jon Ward profiles Democrats targeting firm Blue Labs. And a Kentucky survey shows what a difference the 'Obamacare' label can make. This is HuffPollster for Friday, November 15, 2013.

HOW OBAMA'S FALLING APPROVAL COULD AFFECT 2014 - Sean Trende: "[P]residential job approval is still the most important variable for how his party fares in midterm elections, explaining about half of the variance. The relationship is highly statistically significant: For every point in job approval the president loses, his party loses 0.6 percent of its caucus….As I’ve said before, this election isn’t going to be about sixth-year itches or any such electoral mumbo-jumbo. It’s going to be about presidential job approval, supplemented by the state of the economy (which also affects job approval to a degree) and how overexposed or underexposed the president’s party is. Right now, the second factor provides a drag beyond the president’s job approval, while the third factor will work heavily to Democrats’ advantage on Election Day….It is still far too early to speculate about how many seats Democrats will lose (or perhaps gain) in the 2014 elections. But if Obama’s job approval is 40 percent on Election Day, gains would be unlikely, and Democratic losses in the low double digits -- perhaps even as many as the 20 or so seats that would accompany losing 11 percent of their caucus, a la 1950 -- would be plausible." [Real Clear Politics]

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A note of caution - In a post HuffPollster linked to yesterday, political scientist Jonathan Bernstein was skeptical that Obama's current numbers would have much effect in two years: "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." [Plain Blog About Politics]

THE DEMOCRATS 'TRUE BELIEVER' DATA ANALYTICS FIRM - Jon Ward reports an in-depth profile of Blue Labs, the targeting and data analytics firm staffed with Obama campaign veterans: "Blue Labs has continued the work that many of them pioneered on the Obama campaign. They know more about voters than has ever been possible before, and they use that information to guide campaign resources -- polls, TV ads, door knocks, phone calls, mail and so forth. Their goal: get their candidates' most reliable supporters to the polls, win over the voters who are most persuadable, and have as precise an understanding of how the electorate will vote as can be had. In industry terms, Blue Labs targets voters using data analytics...Blue Labs also did its own polling, based on weekly calls to voters that were used to update the electorate model built earlier in the year. According to a chart showing internal polling results from mid-July to the end of the race, which was viewed by HuffPost, Blue Labs never had McAuliffe up by more than 3 points, and its numbers showed the race almost tied at a few different times. Despite arguments that Obamacare's problems made the race closer, the only movement in the Blue Labs numbers over the last two weeks of the race was a slight widening of McAuliffe's lead. The Blue Labs chart showed McAuliffe up by just under 3 points on Nov. 1. He won four days later by 2.5 points." [HuffPost]

GOP SUPPORTS FOOD STAMP CUTS - Arthur Delaney and Emily Swanson: "Republican voters strongly approve of a recent cut to food stamps that reduced benefits for all 47 million Americans enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, according to a new HuffPost/YouGov poll. Meanwhile, Americans as a whole tend to disapprove of those cuts. Republican politicians have been trying to curtail food stamp spending, but they've been silent about the cut that just took effect -- which was the product of Democratic-backed legislation that passed in 2010. Nevertheless, Republican voters in the HuffPost/YouGov poll overwhelmingly considered the reduction a good thing. By a 67 percent to 25 percent margin, most Republicans said they approved of the cuts. By a 67 percent to 28 percent margin, most Democrats said they disapproved. Independents were more likely to disapprove than approve, with 48 percent against the cuts and 40 percent in favor." [HuffPost]

"OBAMACARE" vs. "AFFORDABLE CARE ACT - Buried in a union sponsored poll on Kentuckians' thoughts on Mitch McConnell and rail service: 65 percent view "Obamacare" unfavorably, compared with 48 percent who dislike the "Affordable Care Act." This wasn't a split sample - respondents were asked about the ACA directly after Obamacare. (h/t Emily Swanson) [United Transportation Union]

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FRIDAY'S 'OUTLIERS' - Links to more news at the intersection of polling, politics and political data:

-61 percent of Americans believe a conspiracy killed John F. Kennedy. [Gallup]

-Bill Galston says Obama's approval rating drop marks "the nadir of his presidency." [Brookings]

-Obama's approval rating is now approximately the same as crack-smoking Toronto mayor Rob Ford's. [The Star]

-Stan Greenberg (D) tells Karl Rove why he's responsible for the Tea Party. [Atlantic]

-Charlie Cook identifies a 2014 dynamic: voters don't want to see anyone win. [National Journal]

-Brandon White looks at how rarely early primary polling is predictive of results in the presidential race. [Partisan ID]

-Dante Chinni breaks down the size of the individual insurance market in key 2014 Senate races. [WSJ]

-Harry Enten writes is 2013 mea culpa a little early and bids farewell to the Guardian. [Guardian]

-Vote on the best data visualizations of 2013. [Information is Beautiful Awards]

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