Politics

01.26.12

Obama Stays Above the Fray

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Saul Loeb, Pool / Landov

Could President Obama beat any of his current Republican rivals? It may be too early to tell, but as Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich continue their slug fest for the nomination, the president has remained consistently above the fray, retaining high and relatively constant favorability ratings throughout January.

Whether or not Obama sees a bump in the polls from his State of the Union speech Tuesday, the president continues to be held in high regard online. According to the Election Oracle, Obama has held a positive rating since Republican voting began this month, today it was measured at 37, only twice briefly dropping below zero (which means negative comments outline outnumber favorable one). Both Romney and Gingrich, by comparison, have spent much of the month in negative territory, both were near negative 20 today, and seen far more volatility in their numbers.

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To determine favorability ratings, the Election Oracle tracks 40,000 news sites, blogs, message boards, Twitter feeds, and other social-media sources to analyze what millions of people are saying about the candidates—and determines whether the Web buzz is positive or negative. That rating is weighted, along with the Real Clear Politics polling average and the latest InTrade market data, to calculate each candidate’s chances of winning the Republican nomination. (See methodology here.)

Since late in the fall, Obama has walked the very fine line between governing and campaigning. His Tuesday speech contained campaign-style messaging and the morning after he departed on a three-day, five-state swing to sell his vision. But he has stayed out of the melee of the daily attacks, refusing to answer questions directly about Romney or Gingrich.

Both Republicans, meanwhile, continue their frequent critiques of the president from the campaign trail. But considering Obama's enduring popularity online, it's an open question of whether the attacks are sticking.