That’s the lead from both the Washington Post and ABC News on their latest polling, but don’t get your hopes too high. This isn’t an epic collapse, or even a shocking hit to the relative standing of either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton. It is, perhaps, the first sign that the scandals that have rocked the Obama administration over the last two months may seriously erode Obama’s political capital and make it more difficult to push through an agenda without significant help from Republicans on Capitol Hill:
A majority of Americans regard President Obama favorably, but his numbers have softened considerably among his fellow Democrats, according to new polling conducted by the Washington Post and ABC News.
Obama’s favorability stands at 53 percent, compared to 44 percent of Americans who view him unfavorably. While 85 percent of Democrats regard Obama favorably, the number of those who are strongly supportive of him has dropped since the start of the year. Just 58 percent of Democrats describe themselves as having a “strongly favorable” view of Obama, down from 72 percent who said the same in January. Obama’s numbers among liberal as well as moderate/conservative Democrats are also at their lowest levels in Post-ABC polling since prior to the Democratic National Convention in the summer of 2012.
ABC’s report notes the relative slide:
Six in 10 Americans in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll see Clinton favorably, down 6 percentage points from her career high in January. Obama’s seen favorably by 53 percent, down 7 points from January and back to his pre-re-election level across most of 2012. …
The single-digit comedowns for Obama and Clinton are unsurprising. Since his re-election, the president’s waded into contentious policy areas such as gun control and immigration, while dealing with the Internal Revenue Service and National Security Administration controversies. Obama’s job approval likewise is off from his post-election high in ABC/Post polls.
Clinton, for her part, has stepped away from her popular role as secretary of state and may be seen in an increasingly partisan light given wide discussion of her possible candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016. Last week she said she hopes to see a woman president, and, even without being a formal candidate, was endorsed by Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri). A campaign fundraising committee has been created to support Clinton (without her endorsement), as has one to oppose her.
Clinton’s slide comes from both Republicans (-10) and independents (-7), but among the latter she’s still strongly positive at 58/35. Even among conservatives, Hillary performs rather well at 40/57, much better than Obama does at 31/67. She has lost six points among Democrats but still has an 80/13 favorability rating within her own party, a solid showing.
Obama’s woes mainly come from his own party, in contrast. He lost 7 points among Democrats, and 12 points among self-described liberals, since January. He’s also dropped significantly among independents, going from 60/36 in January to 49/47 now. Overall, though, he’s still at 53/44 in the WaPo/ABC series among general-population adults, which isn’t too bad considering the last two months he’s had. It’s his lowest rating since September 2012, but he’s still solidly in positive territory. All things considered — with the IRS, NSA, and Benghazi controversies raging — it could have been a lot worse.
Or maybe it already is. Fox News’ new poll puts Obama’s favorability under water for the first time ever:
Overall, Obama’s job rating is underwater by eight percentage points: 43 percent of voters approve and 51 percent disapprove of his performance. That’s close to his previous rating of 44-50 percent in mid-June. A year ago the president’s rating was in positive territory: 48-43 percent (June 2012).
Approval of the president has rarely been lower among Democrats (78 percent) and liberals (73 percent). And Obama’s 31 percent approval among independents matches previous lows established August and September 2011.
Meanwhile, the president’s personal popularity is down to 47 percent favorable. And at 51 percent unfavorable, this is the first time more than half of voters have had a negative opinion of Obama.
The negative sentiment carries beyond the White House: 71 percent think the government in Washington has too much power, and 62 percent say they don’t trust the federal government — matching a previous record high (July 2011).
Readers might dismiss the Fox poll because of Fox’ political orientation, but their polling has generally been in the middle of the road on Obama. We’ll get more polling over the next couple of weeks, but the similarities between the two polls — especially on liberal and Democratic erosion in Obama’s support — point to a rough summer for the White House.