Gallup released some interesting poll numbers last week — state-by-state figures on President Obama’s approval rating, which averaged around 46.9% in 2010.
It wasn’t the ratings themselves that I found surprising; it was the ups and downs they’ve seen over the past two years.
The map at left shows where Obama has gained and lost on the approval front. Shades of red indicate that he’s slipped more than six percentage points since being elected in 2008. Shades of blue indicate a loss of less than six points. And in the eight darkest-blue states — Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas — Obama has actually gained in popularity.
Which is weird and not-so-weird, all at the same time.
You could argue, of course, that Obama lost the most ground in states where he received the most initial support. After all, he’s had to compromise on a lot of issues, which has made many of his ardent fans angry. Conversely, in states like Mississippi, where Obama’s score was already modestly low, there was almost nowhere for him to go but up.
But personally, I like to take a more optimistic view. Specifically, I like to think that my fellow Southerners are finally beginning to understand how fundamentally screwed-up certain elements within the Republican party are. Sure, there are plenty of sensible Republicans roaming the Capitol, but they’re not the ones who get airtime. That’s given to the extremists, many of whom still sound like they’re fighting to keep America lodged in the 1950s.
I know the Dems are also flawed, and I know there are plenty of extremists on the left who are just as shrill and bothersome as Mike Huckabee and Michele Bachmann. But frankly, I’d rather put my faith in people looking forward than people trying to hang on to an America that hasn’t existed since the Joseph McCarthy was alive — if it ever did. Maybe sensible Mississippians are finally catching on, too.