It’s not quite the same as having the New York Times or the Washington Post notice that Barack Obama has descended the polling heights of the Barackopolis to the more mundane levels normally associated with a new president, but Politico will do. Noting that Obama’s polling has started to “wilt,” Andy Barr and Michael Falcone blame the economy, which is the leading cause of Obama’s misery — until the polling starts to figure in his Iran response:
Eroding confidence in President Barack Obama’s handling of the economy and ability to control on spending have caused his approval ratings to wilt to their lowest levels since taking office, according to a spate of recent polls, a sign of political weakness that comes just as he most needs leverage on Capitol Hill.
The good news for Obama is that his approval ratings—57 percent in a Gallup tracking poll over the weekend—remain comfortably high by historical standards for presidents.
But the trend lines among a variety of polls over the past several days are unmistakable: Independents and even some Republicans who once viewed him sympathetically are becoming skeptical, and many people of all stripes are anxious about economic and fiscal trends.
The honeymoon is definitely over, which Barr and Falcone see in just about every poll in the last two weeks:
Surveys released last week by Pew, NBC News/Wall Street Journal and The New York Times/CBS News, show the percentage of Americans show a similar pattern. The Pew survey, for example, registered an eight-point drop in public approval for Obama’s handling of the economy—falling from 60 percent to 52 percent between mid-April and June. The percentage of Americans who disapprove jumped by 7 points during the same period.
Though Democrats are still generally more supportive of the administration overall, the slide in the president’s economic numbers defied partisan boundaries. The Pew survey, for instance, showed support for Obama’s handling of the economy sliding six percentage points even among Democrats and independents.
Conservatives shouldn’t get too excited about Obama’s numbers. He remains a likable figure, with personal polling remaining high. Ronald Reagan had high personal numbers, too, and he leveraged his popularity to win political battles many predicted he’d lose.
The problem for Obama is the rapid decline in his support on job performance, and the shrinkage in numbers on policy areas, especially economics. Obama wanted to focus on economic policy in his first two years, but his first major foray, Porkulus, has been exposed as a busted flush. That will drag down his ability to gain enough votes on health-care reform and cap-and-trade, two ambitious and hugely expensive plans at a time when many Americans wonder how Obama will find the money.
Unemployment will make or break Obama for the midterms. If it hits double digits and stays there after spending almost $800 billion on the liberal wish list of social engineering projects, voters may still like Obama personally but will make sure that they give him a Congress that will radically limit his ability to spend any more of their money. (h/t HA reader Geoff A)