How did the State of the Union speech declaring Barack Obama’s intent to make 2014 a year of unilateral action play with the public? According to the most recent Fox News poll, not terribly well. Mixed into deep economic pessimism is a majority opinion that Obama is doing too much instead of too little:
A Fox News poll shows that most swing-voters think President Barack Obama is overstepping his legal authority whenever he decides whether and when to enforce parts of the 2010 Obamacare law.
Sixty-six percent of independents, and 90 percent of Republicans said they disapprove of “Barack Obama going around Congress and using executive orders.”
Only 15 percent of independents, and 7 percent of conservatives, think Obama’s effort to bypass Congress are “the way our government is supposed to work.”
The lopsided results in the February poll of 1,006 registered voters is a loud warning signal for Obama, who is relying on his extensive use of executive orders, regulations and unilateral actions to boost his policies and his supporters’ morale in the run-up to the November election.
Yes, it’s a Fox News poll, which means that many will dismiss this out of hand, but that would be a mistake. If anything, the poll oversamples both Democrats and Republicans (40/35), which makes those figures look rather solid. Overall, 60% disapprove of Obama going around Congress — and even 31% of Democrats disapprove. Majorities of independents (66%), women (59%), and younger voters (under 35 YO, 61%) disapprove of the go-it-alone theme.
Obama’s approval rating hasn’t been affected, at least not yet. He’s at 42/53 in this Fox poll, which is better than Gallup’s showing at the moment (39/51), and exactly the same as January’s numbers in this same series. Among independents, though, it’s crashing to 29/65, and he’s underwater now with both men (39/56) and women (50/44), and possibly so with younger voters (46/47).
On the economy, the news is even worse for Obama and his fellow Democrats. By a 21-point majority, Americans feel the worst is yet to come in the national economy (37/58). Majorities prevail in this opinion in almost every demo, except for Democrats with a weak 51/44, and self-described liberals at 56/40. Among voters under 35, pessimism reigns by 30 points, 33/63, and it’s 31/64 among those earning under $50K.
If Obama plans to pivot to the economy, then, it might be a bad move for his party in the midterms. Furthermore, the issue of income inequality also cuts against Obama. According to a wide majority of Americans — including all party affiliations — the policies of the Obama administration have increased the gap between the wealthy and the poor over the last five years. That’s the opinion overall (60/25), among Republicans (64/21), indies (63/21), and Democrats (52/32). Every demo has a wide majority on that point, except for a near-even split among black voters, 44/43.
Nor do voters appear anxious for redistribution. While Democrats think that “spread the wealth” policies are a good idea (66/30), an overall majority opposes them, 39/55, as do indies (27/63) and both men (38/57) and women (41/53). Younger voters split 49/48, but the under-$50K earners oppose it narrowly 44/50.
Given these numbers, Obama couldn’t have possibly crafted a worse State of the Union speech.