Lots of e-mails about the new Q-poll today, but the dirty little secret is that the newsiest result isn’t new. Quinnipiac started asking the question about Obama’s competence back in November, after the Healthcare.gov Chernobyl, and found that — ta da — 53 percent said no when asked if the administration had run the government competently. The news in today’s numbers is that, despite the salvage job on the O-Care website in November and the big enrollment surge in December, perceptions of his competence have scarcely budged since then. Here’s the trendline when people are asked if the administration’s competent. After a terrible 2013 lowlighted by the ObamaCare clusterfark, America may simply have decided, irreversibly, that this guy doesn’t know what he’s doing.
Although the topline number’s flat, there has been some movement within different demographic groups since November. Back then, voters aged 18-29 split 47/46 on whether Obama’s administration was competent; today they’ve climbed back to 49/42. Among other parts of O’s base, the trend is the opposite — perceptions among blacks of his competence have dipped from 79/15 to 72/20 and among Latinos from 51/46 to … 44/45. No way to know precisely what’s driving that, but it’s noteworthy that just as his numbers on competence have remained flat, so have the numbers for ObamaCare. In November, after hell month for Healthcare.gov, Quinnipiac found support for the law at 39/55. Today, after things have stabilized a bit, it’s 38/56. Deeply unpopular, as always, despite its alleged recent “successes.”
“So what?” you say. “Who cares what the polls look like for a lame duck?” That’s your cue to read Sean Trende’s new piece on how the president’s job approval affects his party’s chances in Senate races. The conventional wisdom that the GOP’s looking at picking up four to six seats in the Senate this year is true, says Trende — if you assume that Obama’s job approval is hovering at around 50 percent. In reality, O’s approval is around 43 percent and hasn’t been higher than his disapproval in RCP’s poll average since last May. The lower he goes, the more vulnerable Democratic “safe” seats become. Right now, Trende thinks a 10-seat pick-up for Republicans isn’t out of the question. If perceptions of his competence really are stuck at 43/53 or so going forward, he and his party are in deep trouble.