In an otherwise unremarkable poll of adults, as opposed to voters or likely voters, this result stands out, especially after the Obama administration’s attempts to both spin the numbers and blame George Bush for the economy. Fifty-four percent of respondents to the latest CNN poll disapprove of Barack Obama’s performance on the economy, a 17-point swing in six weeks. That isn’t the worst of the poll, either; 57% now disapprove of Obama’s performance on health care, a 19-point swing in that same time.
CNN, of course, doesn’t mention the details on either in its own reporting on the poll:
One year after he won a historical presidential election, a slight majority of Americans approve of the job Barack Obama’s doing in the White House.
Fifty-four percent of people questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Tuesday approve of how Obama is handling his duties as president, with 45 percent saying they disapprove.
“Obama’s approval rating of 54 percent is nearly identical to the 53 percent of the vote he won a year ago,” notes CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. “And in nearly every demographic category, the percent that approve of Obama today is within two to three points of the percent who voted for him in 2008. It’s a different story when we turn to ideology. His approval rating among liberals is 7 points higher than the number of liberals who voted for him. But among conservatives, the number who like Obama today is down 10 points compared to his share of the vote among that group in 2008.”
The survey suggests that the president’s approval rating remains over 50 percent even though most Americans disapprove of how Obama is handling the economy, health care, Afghanistan, Iraq, unemployment, illegal immigration and the federal budget deficit.
Another item missing from the poll and its report: the party split in the sample. The CNN/Opinion Research poll does not include any data on its survey respondents on party identification, a rather unusual omission for a political poll. Of course, that does allow CNN to skirt the issue of skewed samples, but it also makes the final report a lot less reliable, since we cannot test for sampling bias.
Even apart from that, in most newsrooms, a 17-point reversal on the economy and a 19-point reversal on health care would be, well, news. One has to wonder why neither get mentioned in a report on the popularity of a president whose central issues are health care and the economy. The rapid disintegration of his popularity on these positions will have enormous implications for Obama’s ability to push his agenda through Congress in both arenas, and also on the midterm elections a year from now if this becomes a trend.
In fact, it’s hard to find an issue where Obama has not lost ground:
- Economy – 46%/54%, was 54%/45%
- Foreign affairs – 51%/47%, was 58%/38%
- Health care – 42%/57%, was 51%/47%
- Afghanistan – 42%/56%, was 49%/46%
- Taxes – 49%/50%, was 52%/42%
- Helping the middle class – 50%/49%, was 67%/32% (six months ago, last time question asked)
His numbers stayed roughly the same on Medicare, with just a rounding difference. Otherwise, Obama has lost serious ground on every issue, mainly over the last six weeks. On health care, Obama is close to entering Bush territory in terms of job approval, but one would never know that from CNN’s reporting on its own poll.