For several months, Republican candidates were the subjects of most internet scorn. Every gaffe, critical ad or primary loss would light up the web with negative mentions. But now it appears that President Obama has also been dragged into negative web popularity, according to the Election Oracle, earning derision on economic, social and even foreign policy issues.
Obama's web favorability rating has dropped dramatically over the past week, now at -32, following a series of distasteful narratives attached to the White House. Gas prices hit $3.50 last week and have continued to climb, threatening the economic recovery. Talks continue to intensify between U.S. and Israeli officials about a possible Israeli-led military strike to deter Iran's nuclear program. And the apparent burning of a Quran in Afghanistan that led to two U.S. army officers' deaths has Obama on the defensive, and even more so after he apologized for the incident. As Obama's reelection campaign heats up, the criticism continues to come from his opponents, and the Election Oracle suggests that lots of it is now sticking.
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.)
Will Obama stay in the basement for long? Most candidates, Obama included, have shown an ability when pummeled by web criticism to recalibrate messaging and eventually regain footing. Obama campaign officials have indicated that the summer could potentially be brutal for the president, as energy prices rise and the unemployment rate is expected to slightly creep up again as the labor force expands. But in a storm of volatility, Obama's best defense is likely to be his usual modus operandi of simply waiting for the bad press to subside. To that end, Obama will avoid thorny issues this week. On his schedule are meetings governors, a speech to the United Auto Workers and a visit to Walter Reed Medical Center to meet with wounded service members.