Both presidents’ overall approval ratings are in negative territory.
But making a comparison between two men with pretty much the same problems (while trying to take into account the trajectory of changing moods in their countries) is much more complex than a slew of poll results. Coming back to France after close to four weeks of unscientific watching and listening on the other side of the Atlantic provides an interesting contrast.
In the United States, the impact of markedly bad unemployment figures of 9.1 percent — the net job change of zero in August was the first of its kind since 1945 — has immense shock value in a country used to jobless rates regularly half those of Western Europe. People are truly taken aback.
If there is a mood shift in France, too (although only traces show up in the poll scores), it is in Mr. Sarkozy’s favor.
The cover story of the news magazine Le Point this week doesn’t show the usual Sam the Eagle scowling president, a kind of “Muppet Show” Mr. Gloom, but a relaxed-looking, very blue-eyed man with the headline “And if it were him again?”
Over the weekend, the TNS Sofres poll that reported the president’s ongoing unpopularity (about 70 percent) added this analysis: “Certain indicators are flashing green for Sarkozy and change the givens.” It said he had picked up 13 points from the far-right National Front party.
UPDATE: On the French side:
Au premier tour, Nicolas Sarkozy oscille entre 20 et 24 % et, au second tour, il est systématiquement donné perdant dans des proportions certes peu réalistes par leur ampleur (près de 58 %), mais révélatrices du rejet. Cette crise de confiance est avant tout une crise du résultat, tant l'espérance suscitée par la campagne de 2006-2007 a été grande. Elle s'est ensuite doublée d'une crispation à l'égard de la personne et de son exercice de la fonction présidentielle.The same comment holds true of Obama: high expectations, disappointing achievement.