The Washington Post and ABC News have published their latest poll, and try as they might, they still have bad news for Barack Obama. The President has lost seven points off of their poorly-sampled approval rating from January with the latest even-more-poorly-sampled survey today. Despite giving Obama a ten-point advantage, he drops to 47% approval and hits new lows on the economy:
Deepening economic pessimism has pushed down President Obama’s approval rating to a near record low, but he holds an early advantage over prospective 2012 rivals in part because of widespread dissatisfaction with Republican candidates, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
In the survey, 47 percent approve of the job Obama is doing, down seven points since January. Half of all Americans disapprove of his job performance, with 37 percent saying they “strongly disapprove,” nearly matching the worst level of his presidency.
Driving the downward movement in Obama’s standing are renewed concerns about the economy and fresh worry about rising prices, particularly for gasoline. Despite signs of economic growth, 44 percent of Americans see the economy as getting worse, the highest percentage to say so in more than two years.
The toll on Obama is direct: 57 percent disapprove of the job the president is doing dealing with the economy, tying his highest negative rating when it comes to the issue. And the president is doing a bit worse among politically important independents.
Let’s take a look at the sample, shall we? In January, when the WaPo/ABC survey gave Obama a 54% approval rating, it came from a sample with a 10-point edge for Democrats, with a D/R/I of 33/23/38. Their pollster apparently never bothered to pay attention to Gallup or Rasmussen on party affiliation, both of whom show dead heats between the two parties, with Rasmussen showing a slight edge to Democrats this month, 35.3% to 34.0%. Today’s WaPo/ABC sample is just as ludicrous as last December at 32/22/41, which I’d remind people is three points wider than Barack Obama’s popular-vote margin of victory in 2008 — and that included independents and crossover Republicans.
Spotting Obama ten points doesn’t do him much good, however. His 50% disapproval is his highest level since September among general-population adults (he got a 52% disapproval among likely voters in the poll before the midterms in October). Similarly, his 57% disapproval on the economy ties his worst performance in September, and the number strongly disapproving on the economy (46%) is not just his worst ever but approaching a majority. That’s not terribly surprising, however, since 44% now believe the economy is getting worse instead of better or staying the same (28% each), the worst result since March 2009 and a ten-point jump in pessimism since the midterms. Another near-majority (43%) say that increasing gasoline prices have been a “serious” hardship.
The ten-point lead doesn’t help much on Obama’s re-elect chances, either. Only 28% are firm in backing a second term, while 45% are firm in opposing Obama. That doesn’t leave much room for error, and a properly balanced sample might have shown a majority already opposed. Since the sampling imbalance directly impacts the head-to-head matches, the results there are mostly useless, but even the Republican/GOP leaner question of which candidate gets the most support looks like an outlier. This poll has Mitt Romney (16%) doubled up on Donald Trump (8%), almost tripled up on Mike Huckabee (6%) and more than tripled up on Sarah Palin (5%). I’m not familiar with any other national poll that has anything close to those characteristics.
As badly as this poll’s sample skews to Democrats, one might expect Obama to have done much better. Perhaps WaPo/ABC might consider using an honest sample next time out. I doubt Obama could do much worse.