People Like Obama

For reasons I don’t quite understand, winning an election tends to make the winner more popular than he was before. Thus, Barack Obama now has a sky-high seventy percent approval rating and folks are optimistic that he’ll do a good job:


This is, of course, something that could be a problem for a would-be opposition party and, in particular, a source of leverage vis-à-vis Senators (Collins, Snowe, Gregg, Specter, Voinovich, Martinez, Burr, Lugar, Grassley, and possibly Coleman) representing states Obama carried.

But it’s also a reminder of an unusual aspect of the 2008 election, namely that it pitted two very popular candidates against each other. The losing candidate had a favorable rating that hovered around 60 percent all year and the winning candidate hovered around 65 percent. These “up with people” sentiments wound up a bit underrepresented in the political press because a lot of conservative leaders were cool to McCain and because outpourings of enthusiasm for Obama from unusual corners of the landscape were so widespread that sophisticated progressive analysts have all spent months distancing themselves from an atmosphere of hero worship. But actually, people really like Obama and like McCain a lot, too.