New poll: Obama’s executive-privilege assertion not as popular as WH imagined

posted at 8:41 am on June 25, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Via Jammie Wearing Fool, the numbers are as brutal as he says.  In a poll taken by The Hill after last week’s assertion of executive privilege by Barack Obama in the Operation Fast and Furious probe, only 29% of likely voters supported Obama’s move to block access to Department of Justice documentation, while a clear majority disapproved:

A clear majority of likely voters believes President Obama has exercised his executive power inappropriately — particularly in blocking the release of documents relating to Operation Fast and Furious, according to a new poll for The Hill. …

The Hill Poll found that likely voters disapproved by an almost 2-to-1 margin of Obama’s assertion of presidential power in the case. Overall, 56 percent of voters disapproved of his action, while only 29 percent approved.

The news is even worse among independents, and it’s not exactly a slam-dunk among Obama’s base, either:

The defense is not proving an easy sell with voters, particularly independents.

Sixty-one percent of independents said they disapproved of the president’s actions, and just 25 percent approved. Among Republicans, opposition to the president’s use of executive privilege was more entrenched at 78 percent.

Even 28 percent of Democrats, and 30 percent of self-identified liberals disapproved of Obama’s position.

When asked more generically (“Has President Obama used his Executive Authority appropriately or inappropriately?”), the numbers narrow, but not all that much.  Obama still loses by a majority, 43/52, and does slightly worse than that among younger voters (42/56) and independents (40/55).  On the specific question, younger voters — on whom Obama depends for support and enthusiasm — give him worse marks than the overall rating, at just 24/60.

Congress doesn’t do terribly well in this poll either, but still fares better than Obama.  A plurality believe that Congress has been obstructive (48/41), with a majority of independents agreeing (51/38), but that’s of small comfort to Obama.  That point is now moot.  Now that Obama has asserted executive privilege to block access to these documents, the onus has shifted to the White House to explain itself.  Clearly, the explanations given have not sufficed, and Obama’s supporters are a small minority on this issue.  The more he pushes it, the more damage he will do even within his base.

Don’t be surprised to see the White House cut a deal on this if more polling corroborates this result.  If not, then it’s further confirmation that whatever they’re hiding is more damaging than the political hit they’ll take from pursuing a Nixon strategy four months before the election.

Update: I had “abused” in the poll question where it should be “used.” I fixed it, but in truth the actual poll report has the word “Oabamused” (I edited it for clarity), so it was a little difficult to get right.

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