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Associated Press/Photo by Carolyn Kaster

Brand erosion

Politics | New data shows that President Obama is becoming a liability for Democratic candidates

WASHINGTON-Only two years ago, Democratic politicians won dozens of races on a wave of enthusiasm for Barack Obama. Pundits talked about President George W. Bush's "tarring" legacy and the "liability" he was to GOP candidates.

The current occupant of the White House is starting to understand what Bush felt like.

National Journal's Hotline reported Thursday that a prominent Democratic pollster has released the results of a survey showing that President George W. Bush is six points more popular than President Obama in House districts where incumbent Democrats are vulnerable.

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Obama's weekly approval rating currently stands at 44 percent, according to Gallup, a new low for him. President Bush's approval numbers didn't go that low until his second term.

And in Obama's home state of Illinois, 40 percent of voters said they would be less likely to support a candidate the president endorsed, according to a poll out Thursday from Public Policy Polling. Only half of Democratic voters in Illinois said that an Obama endorsement would be a positive. Right now, Republican Mark Kirk is tied in a race with Democrat Alex Giannoulias for Obama's old U.S. Senate seat.

"This was the time we could have had real social change," disaffected Obama voter Evan Kane told WORLD reporter Edward Lee Pitts as he traveled through Illinois two weeks ago. "I really thought he would be able to deliver."

Therefore, Democratic candidates in toss-up districts are less likely to seek a visit from the president. Still, Obama is a good fundraiser. So far in August, he has already raised millions for candidates. For the next 10 days, the president will be off the campaign trail and on a family vacation on Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts.

Over the past year, President Obama holds a poor batting average in his endorsements in high-stakes races. Three candidates he backed-Jon Corzine in the New Jersey governor's race, Creigh Deeds in the Virginia governor's race, and Martha Coakley in the Massachusetts Senate race-lost to Republicans. He backed another losing candidate in the Pennsylvania Democratic Senate primary: Arlen Specter. Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado was one of the president's few successful endorsements in recent months. He won in a tight Democratic Senate primary this month against a candidate former-President Clinton backed: Andrew Romanoff. President Obama also backed Sen. Blanche Lincoln in her competitive primary in Arkansas, and she won, but he never appeared at a campaign event for her.

Emily Belz
Emily Belz

Emily, who has covered everything from political infighting to pet salons for The Indianapolis Star, The Hill, and the New York Daily News, reports for WORLD Magazine from New York City. Follow Emily on Twitter @emlybelz.


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