It’s hard to know what to make of this release from the latest CNN poll. Barack Obama continues to run underwater on overall job approval in the CNN poll, improving slightly since early September’s 43/55 to 46/50 today. However, American confidence in his policies hit a new low — well below his approval rating:
A CNN/ORC International Poll released Monday indicates that 46% of the public approves of the job the president is doing in the White House, basically unchanged from September, with 50% saying they disapprove of how he is handling his duties. …
According to the survey, 36% say they think the president’s policies will succeed, with 59% saying Obama’s policies will fail, up 12 points from last year and nearly double the 32% who said in 2009 that the president’s policies will fail. Most Democrats and independent voters say they hope Obama’s policies will succeed. But a majority of Republicans say they hope Obama’s policies will fail.
“A record high level of pessimism that may not be surprising when six in ten predict the economy will be bad shape a year from now,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. “Only 13% say the economy is in good shape now; only 39% believe it will be in good shape next October.”
The report mixes hope and believe in such a way as to confuse readers about which way the question was asked. It was actually asked both ways. Only 25% of voters “hope” Obama’s policies will fail, but 59% think they will fail. That’s the first time in the series that this gets a majority response.
Regardless of what people “hope,” they react to what they believe, and majorities in nearly all demographics believe Obama’s policies are losers. That includes almost 2-1 among independents at 34/61 and 35/57 among self-professed moderates. Majorities in every regional demographic believe Obama’s policies will fail, including a shocking 43/52 among urban voters. Likewise, majorities in every age demographic believe that Obama’s policies will fail, starting with a 43/53 among the youngest voters and peaking at 30/64 among 50-64YOs. Those earning under or over $50K reject Obama’s policies (42/53 and 29/66, respectively).
So who believes Obama’s policies will succeed? Only Democrats (60/34), self-professed liberals (55/39), and non-white voters (54/42). Not only are those support numbers in demos that traditionally go all-in for Obama looking pretty weak, it’s a demonstration of just how little these demos impact the general electoral opinion any longer.
If that’s the case, then why do 46% still approve of Obama’s job performance if 59% think his policies will fail? That’s probably due to Obama’s personal likeability, but that’s not going to win him a second term. This poll took place five weeks after Obama’s jobs and deficit-reduction plans got rolled out, and it’s clear that they haven’t impressed anyone except Obama’s core voters — and not enough of them to provide a game-changer.