While Barack Obama is flying high in public opinion polls, there could be trouble ahead on the issues of same sex marriage, big government, and party identification, according to Frank Newport, Editor in Chief of the Gallup Poll.
âThe data actually show some areas of concern for the Democrats,â Newport said at a Monitor-sponsored breakfast with reporters on Tuesday. In addition to his role at Gallup, Newport is the incoming president of the American Association for Public Opinion, the nationâs largest association of public opinion and polling professionals.
Still mostly sunny
Of course, the possible trouble areas Newport outlines for Democrats have to be viewed against a political backdrop that is far from encouraging for Republicans. President Obamaâs job approval rating is a robust 67 percent.
And as non-partisan political analyst Charlie Cook [no relation] says in his latest column, âHalf a year past a second-consecutive devastating election for Republicans -- in which they went further in the hole in the House and Senate and lost the presidency -- are they any better off now? Are there any signs of a rebound? The short answer would appear to be 'no'."
A conservative retrenchment
But that does not mean the Obama administration has uniformly strong support on every issue. âI do not think the public has moved radically liberal on a lot of social and values issues,â Newport said. He noted that Gallupâs daily polling had found âa retrenchment to the more conservative on gun control as an example."
"And there is some evidence even on abortion there may be somewhat of a retrenchment there.â he said.
Obama has been âvery carefulâ on the issue of same sex marriage, Newport said, supporting civil unions but not marriage for gays. âNevertheless I think that is an issue where the Republican Party might have an edge because the public remains conservative on social and value issues,â he said.
Fears of big government
Gallupâs polling has found âthe public is sensitive to government getting too large,â Newport said. The conventional wisdom is that the public is giving the Obama administration âsomewhat of a carte blanche at the moment because of the severity of the economic problem."
"But the real question will be when the economy picks up, will there be a reaction to too much big government, and/or will the Republicans be able to take this and exploit it?â Newport said.
âAmericans still say in one of our [polling] questions the American government is trying to do too much that should be left to business and individuals,â Newport said. Of course, concerns about big government could be overpowered by a robust economic recovery. âIt is ironic [that] if the economy picks up, it will allow Americans to say âtoo much of the big governmentâ [but] on the other hand, they will be happy because of the economy,â Newport said.
Fewer say they're Democrats
A final potential concern for Democrats is what Newport described as âa slight increaseâ in daily tracking polls of voters who identify as independents and a âslight beginning of a comedownâ in those who identify as Democrats. In the first quarter of 2009, Gallup data found 35 percent of the population said they were Democrats, 28 percent Republicans, and 35 percent as independents.
âThose are three issues where I would be sensitive were I Obamaâs pollster,â Newport said.
Increase your poll numbers by following us on Twitter!