I considered adding this to my earlier Gallup poll post about the rise of third-party sentiment, but the numbers on Barack Obama stand out as a separate issue. The Associated Press/GfK poll demonstrates a high degree of dissatisfaction with all sides in the shutdown, including with Obama, who still fares better than his own party:
Americans are finding little they like about President Barack Obama or either political party, according to a new poll that suggests the possibility of a “throw the bums out” mentality in next year’s midterm elections.
The AP-GfK poll finds few people approve of the way the president is handling most major issues and most people say he’s not decisive, strong, honest, reasonable or inspiring.
In the midst of the government shutdown and Washington gridlock, the president is faring much better than his party, with large majorities of those surveyed finding little positive to say about Democrats. The negatives are even higher for the Republicans across the board, with 4 out of 5 people describing the GOP as unlikeable and dishonest and not compassionate, refreshing, inspiring or innovative.
It’s true that Obama gets the best numbers, but that’s damning by faint praise in this poll. His strongest suit — likeability — is now down to 49/47, and it’s the only positive in the group. Majorities now reject the idea that Obama is honest (44/52), reasonable (43/53), strong (41/54), or decisive (a whopping 38/58). His previous status of being an inspirational leader has declined to 42/54.
Obama looks stronger than he is in comparison to everyone else. Democrats and Republicans score much lower on all of these attributes, but Republicans easily score the lowest. They’re about even on strength — 31/64 Dems, 30/66 GOP — but on the rest, Republicans score 10 or more points below Democrats. On being reasonable, Democrats get 33% to the GOP’s 20%.
It’s not pretty for either party, but especially for Republicans who had hoped to gain a big swing in momentum by forcing brinksmanship on ObamaCare in the budget and debt-ceiling fight. Whatever one thinks of the particulars in each poll this week, it’s clear that voters aren’t rising up against Democrats alone, or Obama in particular. And that may have some unintended effects next year, unless the standoff gets resolved quickly:
The numbers offer warning signs for every incumbent lawmaker, and if these angry sentiments stretch into next year, the 2014 elections could feel much like the 2006 and 2010 midterms when being affiliated with Washington was considered toxic by many voters. In 2006, voters booted Republicans from power in the House and Senate, and in 2010, they fired Democrats who had been controlling the House.
This is probably what is driving the White House to bypass Harry Reid, and why the House and Senate Republicans are changing tactics and looking for a resolution with some face-saving gains. No one’s winning this fight, and everyone has something to lose.