MINNEAPOLIS — Despite their grousing about the administration during the Netroots Nation conference, liberal activists and bloggers are relatively happy with President Barack Obama's performance.
A straw poll conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research showed that 80 percent either approve or strongly approve of the president more than a year before voters head to the polls to decide whether he deserves a second term. The results broke down to 27 percent strongly approving of Obama and 53 percent approving “somewhat.” Thirteen percent said they “somewhat disapprove,” and 7 percent strongly disapprove of the president.
The poll of 519 people was conducted via iPad in the Minneapolis Convention Center on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Two-thirds of the respondents said they want Obama to focus on job growth. “Protecting health care” was the distant runner-up, with 9 percent of respondents saying that should be Obama’s top priority.
Thirty-two percent of activists said they would most like Obama to have former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) as his rival next fall, with Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) a close second with 27 percent and Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) a distant third place with 12 percent. Attendees said they would least like Obama to face former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, but the majority of respondents believe Republicans would indeed pick Romney to be the GOP nominee.
A few blocks away from Netroots, conservatives gathered for the RightOnline conference hosted by Americans for Prosperity. The 1,500 attendees went to workshops about becoming citizen journalists, were briefed about the state lawsuits challenging health care reform by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) and got wooed by several presidential hopefuls.
Bachmann gave the Saturday morning address and excited the crowd. One of her biggest applause lines was about health care: “I will not rest until we repeal Obamacare. Take it to the bank. Cash the check. I’m absolutely serious. It will happen!”
Roll Call spoke with a handful of activists who said they were most impressed with Bachmann, who was returning to her home state for the first time since making the official announcement Monday night at a GOP debate that she will mount a White House bid.
“She was just fantastic and so real,” Joanne Scribner of Sheboygan, Wis., told Roll Call in an interview. She first noticed Bachmann this winter when the Congresswoman gave a tea party response to Obama’s State of the Union address.
Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-Mich.), who is considering a 2012 bid, gave a short speech at RightOnline. Asked by Roll Call what he makes of straw poll results from the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans showing him in last place with 2 percent, McCotter responded, "I don't."
Former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain gave the closing keynote at RightOnline and had the crowd on its feet and cheering for the majority of the speech. Talking to reporters after the address, Cain said he believes that if he continues to tell it like it is, he’ll win the GOP nomination.
“I am going to be myself,” he said. “My candidacy is on the rise.”
Friday night the conservatives attended what filmmakers called a “rough cut” of a new film about Palin. “The Undefeated” will debut in Iowa later this month.
Netroots organizers announced that their gathering will be held in Providence, R.I., next June. Each year, RightOnline organizers follow the liberal activists to whatever city they have chosen.