Today’s release of the WaPo/ABC poll data from last week’s survey shows the job-approval rating for Barack Obama only mildly improving, from 42/54 at the beginning of October to 44/53, a move within the margin of error. Comparing it to Obama’s poll numbers in the beginning of September, before Obama launched his class-warfare rhetoric and his American Jobs Act, it’s almost identical to the 43/53 at that point.
That indicates a lack of traction in Obama’s strategy, but another key indicator in the data shows that he’s going backwards. When it comes to comparison between Obama and Congressional Republicans on economic issues, Obama now falls into two ties — on the economy (42/42) and on creating jobs (40/40). The latter is especially interesting, since it matches the September poll, but erases a 15-point lead Obama built in October (49/34). His push on the jobs act has apparently flopped in terms of making an argument that he’s got a better plan for generating job growth.
A third indicator shows that the class-warfare rhetoric has failed as well. In April, the last time the poll series asked this question, Obama had a wide lead over Republicans in Congress on “protecting the middle class,” 51/39. Today that has dropped to 45/41 despite — or perhaps resulting from — his combative soak-the-rich rhetoric. It’s the first time in a year that Obama doesn’t score a majority on that question, and it’s the best score Republicans have had.
The negative rhetoric may also be taking a toll in another way. The right/wrong direction question has the second-worst response of Obama’s presidency in this series, 22/74, just slightly up from September’s 20/77. Previous to September, the lowest response from the general population of adults was 31/67 in December 2010. In April 2009, it was 50/48, and as late as last June it was still 32/66. As perceptions get more pessimistic, Obama wants to blame House Republicans — but it’s the leader that takes the blame most often for going in the wrong direction. Obama’s angry class warfare has stirred up the Occupy movement, which will eventually add to the perception of decline, and that’s going to get tied to Obama and the Democrats in a very big way — as the answers on the economic trust questions have begun to indicate.