The polling news hasn’t improved much for Barack Obama, even without a military attack on Syria in the offing. A new poll from NBC and the Wall Street Journal shows Americans lining up 2:1 against the debt-ceiling increase Obama needs, and his credibility dropping on a wide range of issues:
Americans overwhelmingly do not think Congress should raise the nation’s debt limit as President Barack Obama and Congress prepare once again to wage battle over the issue, according to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.
By a 44-22 percent margin, Americans oppose raising the debt ceiling, which again puts the president in the difficult position of needing to make the case for an unpopular policy with a deadline quickly approaching.
The poll results come as the U.S. Treasury Department says the country will reach its debt limit by mid-October. The Bipartisan Policy Center estimates the limit will be reached by Oct. 18, and the U.S. could default by Nov. 5.
“People’s first instinct is how fed up they are with Washington and spending,” said Republican pollster Bill McInturff, who conducted the poll with Democratic pollster Peter D. Hart. “This is a very difficult issue in terms of public opinion.”
The NBC report also notes that the last time we had a showdown over the debt ceiling, the debate started with similar numbers — 39/28 against raising the debt limit. After a month had passed, that flipped to 31/38, after a few weeks of being a front-burner issue. This still leaves Democrats with a big problem, though, because they planned to use Republican opposition to a debt-ceiling increase as an argument for GOP irresponsibility. Harry Reid has already taken a break from his “OMG Assad is HITLER!” screechifying to call Republicans “anarchists” for that opposition, but that’s a big word to toss around when only 22% of the voters are in your corner. Republicans won’t refuse to raise the debt ceiling — they’d need a balanced budget for that, and we’re years away from one in anyone’s best plan — but the public sentiment gives them a lot more leverage to gain painful concessions from Obama before approving it.
That’s hardly Obama’s only problem, either. Remember the latest pivot to the economy yesterday? Chuck Todd says Obama’s not making the sale:
Obama job rating on econ upside down for 5th poll in a row. And now more folks say GOP better than Dems at "dealing with economy"
— Chuck Todd (@chucktodd) September 13, 2013
The WSJ has more on those numbers:
The Republican Party is gaining a public-opinion edge on several key issues ahead of the 2014 elections, as Americans question President Barack Obama‘s leadership on Syria and worry about the country’s overall direction, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll shows.
Republicans are now rated higher than Democrats on handling the economy and foreign policy, and the GOP’s lead has strengthened on several other issues, including dealing with the federal deficit and ensuring a strong national defense.
On topics such as health care, Democrats have seen their long-standing advantage whittled to lows not seen in years.
The poll also reflected unease over the economy. Just 27% of Americans think the economy will improve over the next year, the lowest since July 2012, while nearly two-thirds think the country is on the wrong track.
The public tilt on several issues in favor of the GOP, particularly among independents, comes as Mr. Obama’s own job-approval rating has hovered around 45% for three months, a tenuous place for a president trying to build support for likely battles with Congress over possible military action in Syria, a proposed overhaul of immigration law and the budget.
Democrats have now lost the foreign-policy edge they gained over George W. Bush on Iraq. Republicans have a seven-point lead over Obama on that area. Their once huge lead on health care has now dwindled down to single digits. During the Bush administration, Democrats had an edge of more than 20 points on the federal deficit; now Republicans have a double-digit lead there, too.
Add all of that to the faceplant this week on Syria, and Obama goes into the budget fight in the weakest state of his presidency. Can Republicans leverage that into a win over ObamaCare that at least delays the onset until the midterms give them more power to dismantle it?