The latest Washington Post/ABC poll has good news and bad news for President Barack Obama and the White House.  The good news: ObamaCare and Obama haven’t gotten any more unpopular over the last month.  The bad news: They’re not gaining much, either, and Republicans are starting to catch up:

Public opposition to the new health care law has eased in the past month, enough to help level off Barack Obama’s falling popularity – but not to turn it around.

Fifty-five percent of Americans in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll disapprove of the president’s job performance overall, unchanged from last month’s reading as the worst of his career. Forty-three percent approve, a scant percentage point from 42 percent in November.

Better for the president is an easing of opposition to the Affordable Care Act, with attitudes back to a close division on the law; 46 percent of Americans support it, with 49 percent opposed. Opposition is down from a record 57 percent last month amid the new system’s troubled rollout.

That’s not much of a gain, especially in this poll series. That just puts the support for ObamaCare back to where it was in October, 46/49, in a series where the opposition gap rarely exceeded single digits in the first place.  In mid-summer last year, when most other pollsters showed significant opposition, the WaPo/ABC series showed 47/47 on the question.  Among registered voters in this poll, it’s 45/51, and the Real Clear Politics average over the last two weeks — including this poll — puts support at 37.8/52. Every poll in that time frame except this one puts the opposition gap at double digits.

Meanwhile, there isn’t much other “good” news for the White House to enjoy here.  Obama is still at 43-55 in a poll series where his last majority disapproval before ObamaCare’s rollout came in March 2012.  On the economy, he’s at 42/55, farther underwater than he has been for more than a year prior to November. He’s essentially unchanged from last month on ObamaCare implementation at 34/62.

Obama supporters will point to Congressional numbers showing the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue doing much worse, and that’s true … to a point. Congress’ approval numbers barely improved to 16/81 from the shutdown’s 12/85, and Democrats in Congress still do better than their Republican counterparts, with their numbers almost exactly the same as the last poll taken on the question in March. However, Obama has lost ground to Republicans in big ways when positioned head-to-head on issues:

  • Coping with the nation’s main problems – Tied 41/41; Obama led 50/35 in December 2012
  • Handling the economy – 41/45; was 44/38 in September 2013
  • ObamaCare implementation: 42/37, essentially unchanged from September 2013’s 41/38
  • Protecting the middle class: 46/40, down from December 2012’s 58/32
  • Trust in finding balance on spending: 40/48, down from shutdown’s 47/36

The reservoir of good will has dissipated, squandered by lies and mismanagement.  This will be the new normal for the second term — and could be the ceiling if the incompetence and prevarications continue.