That’s about the best spin possible from Gallup today, and even that’s pretty weak tea, as their accompanying chart shows. Two years ago, Barack Obama scored highly on environmental (79%), energy (72%), and prosperity (61%) policies. Now he’s only getting majority support in one of those areas, and has dropped significantly on that as well:
Before the Japanese earthquake and resulting nuclear crisis, a majority of Americans — 55% — said President Obama is doing a good job of protecting the nation’s environment. At the same time, 55% said he is doing a poor job of making America prosperous and, by 47% to 41%, Americans said he is doing a poor rather than a good job of improving the nation’s energy policy.
Take a look at the graph on the three policies:
Given the precipitous slide on the economy and energy among adults — not registered or likely voters — it’s a wonder Obama’s overall job approval is above water at all. Their daily tracking poll puts Obama at 51/52, although the weekly average is 47/45. If these trends continue, Obama had better hope that the environment becomes the most important issue of the 2012 election.
So far, there seems to be little chance of that, even apart from the fact that it came in dead last among priorities in Gallup’s January poll. Despite a smallish, MOE-sized rebound in this latest survey, the number of people who believe that government isn’t doing enough for the environment is near a 20-year low at 49%, down from 62% in 2006 and a peak of 68% at the start of the series on this question in 1992. In contrast, the percentage of people who believe that the government has done too much has increased fourfold since 2006, from 4% to 16%. Combined with those who believe government does enough as it is, American adults split evenly with activists at 49/49, a big change from 2006’s 62/37 split.
If the economy continues its stagnation and energy prices continue to skyrocket, these numbers will continue their decline in 2011. That will leave Obama remaining strong with environmentalists, and weak with just about everyone else. And it’s rather odd that the lede Gallup chose to pursue in reporting these results was that Obama had majority approval in environmental issues, and not that he’s lost 24 points in two years on the issue, and not that only 36% of American adults approve of his economic performance.