Miracle of miracles! CBS finally produced a poll that has proper sample demographics, and just coincidentally, Barack Obama’s approval rating drops to 48%. But the poll also contains some headscratching results, such as that only 31% think the economy is going in the wrong direction — a rather stark contrast from yesterday’s CNN poll showing almost half believing that a Great Depression is nigh:
President Obama’s approval ratings fell to below 50 percent for the first time since his ratings spiked following the news of the death of Osama bin Laden last month, according to a CBS News poll released on Wednesday.
Just 48 percent of respondents approve of the way he is doing his job, compared to a 57 percent in the days immediately following news of bin Laden’s demise.
Obama’s approval numbers hovered in the range below 50 percent for most of the past year, though they spiked after the early May announcement that a team of elite Navy SEALs had captured and killed the al Qaeda.
About 79 percent of the poll respondents said the economy is in bad shape, essentially unchanged from April but higher than the 74 percent who reported the condition of economy as poor in January.
The 31% who believe the economy is getting worse is actually lower than what CBS found in April, which seems pretty counterintuitive. Economic indicators have all declined since the last poll, and they have been extensively covered by the media. That would suggest that enough people to comprise seven points in April’s 38% somehow have concluded that the economy is improving despite all indications to the contrary.
On the CNN point, though, I have a theory. The “Great Depression” question is, on further reflection, a “begging the answer” question. If asked, people already inclined toward pessimism will feel compelled to agree to demonstrate their concern. We’re much more likely to enter 70s-style stagflation than a Great Depression, at least from current indicators.
On the issues, Obama still does well on terrorism and on Afghanistan, but both dropped significantly since the previous, post-OBL mission ratings. Approval on his approach to terrorism dropped from 72% to a still-solid 63%, above last summer’s 51%. Obama dropped ten points on Afghanistan, from 61% to 51%. He’s back below a majority on foreign policy at 47%, down from 51% last month. On Libya, Obama has definitely lost the American public, with only 30% backing American involvement and 59% opposed to it.
But the economy is the big issue for Americans (48% in this poll rate it #1, with budget deficits at #2 with 10%), and Obama still has horrendous approval numbers on this issue. He’s at 37%, up from 34% last month but down slightly from April’s 38%. On the budget deficit, he’s all the way down to 30%. This will be a big problem for Obama as he pushed Congress for a debt-ceiling increase, which 69% of Americans oppose. Only 24% support the President’s demand to hike it — and only 35% of Democrats, while 54% of his own party opposes Obama on it.
Finally, the sample on this poll has a D/R/I of 30/30/40. That undersamples both Democrats and Republicans, but only slightly, and definitely equally. Amazingly, CBS actually had almost the same number of Republicans and Democrats in the sample (310/312, respectively), and then weighted it to favor Republicans slightly (329/317). It’s a remarkable shift from previous CBS polls. We’ll see if they continue to play it straight in the future.