With the rest of the bad news this week, we’ve missed its impact on the electorate to some extent. Two new national polls this week show Barack Obama’s approval rating sliding back toward historic lows, and the economic news this week might make it even more difficult to reverse the trend. Yesterday, Gallup reported that Obama’s weekly approval rating had skidded to its lowest point in a quarter, coming close to a personal low for his presidency:
The situation in Iraq seems to be taking a toll on President Barack Obama’s public standing. His weekly job approval rating is down a total of three percentage points over the last two weeks, to 41%. While this drop is not large in absolute terms, it is notable because it follows nearly three months in which his job approval averaged 44% with little week-to-week variation.
The long stretch of stability from mid-March to early June occurred during a period that was hardly uneventful for the president, including controversies over medical care for U.S. military veterans at Veterans Affairs hospitals and a prisoner exchange of five Taliban detainees for U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. But Iraq may be the issue weighing most heavily on Obama’s public support given the timing of the drop in approval.
Obama’s approval rating in Gallup Daily tracking first showed signs of decline (from the mid- to the low 40s) in the immediate days after Islamic militants took control of Mosul, the second-largest city in Iraq, on June 10. The Gallup Daily tracking three-day average for June 11-13, based on fully post-Mosul interviewing, was 41%, and Obama’s approval rating has been either 40% or 41% in each subsequent measurement up through June 22 interviewing.
Left unmentioned by Gallup in the lead is that Obama’s disapproval has risen to 53%. Most of the damage in this poll takes place with Democrats and independents. It’s no great surprise to see Obama get a 76% approval rating in his own party, but that’s down from 80% and shows some dimming of enthusiasm. Among independents, Obama has dropped to a 35% approval rating, a very problematic result for Democrats facing a tough midterm election with Republican enthusiasm ascendant.
In fact, Gallup points out that the only lower midterm cycle rating in its history was George W. Bush’s 38% approval at the time of the 2006 election. That turned into a wave election for Democrats, who seized control of the Senate and House, and who have held the Senate ever since — a streak that is very much in jeopardy this November.
Yesterday’s CBS/NYT poll also shows Obama plumbing the depths of his popularity. His overall approval rating is 40/54, slightly lower than Gallup’s, and second-lowest in the entire series (November 2013’s 37/57 was the nadir in the wake of the ObamaCare rollout disaster). But that’s still better than Obama gets in policy areas:
- Foreign policy: 36/58, worst ever and first majority disapproval ever
- Economy: 41/54
- Iraq: 37/52 (Allahpundit covered this in the separate CBS/NYT release)
Perhaps even more telling, the percentage of people who believe Obama has made America less safe from terrorism has hit its highest level ever, 36%, an eight-point increase from last year. It’s the first time that the “less-safe” figure has outstripped the “safer” result, 29%, which is a drop of seven points from 2013 and 2011.
After this week’s GDP revision, it will be interesting to see how that will impact Obama’s approval levels in both polling series. His RCP average for June across all national polls is 41/54, very close to both Gallup and CBS/NYT, but at the rate things are going for this White House, it won’t bounce back any time soon.