Call it “buyer’s remorse, redux.” A large majority of Americans now profess disappointment in the Barack Obama presidency in the latest CBS/NYT poll, and Obama’s approval rating dropped five points in a month to 41%. The numbers are driven by the relentlessly stagnant economy:
Amid continued pessimism about the economy and direction of the country, 59 percent of Americans say they are disappointed in Mr. Obama’s presidency (including 37 percent who are very disappointed); 40 percent are satisfied. Much of this discontent comes from Republicans and independents, but a quarter of Democrats express at least some disappointment.
Disappointment with Barack Obama’s presidency has grown since the summer of 2012, and much of that rise has been among independents. Forty percent of independents say they are very disappointed today, up from 27 percent in August 2012.
President Obama’s overall approval rating is now 41 percent, a dip of five points from last month and similar to what it was in December. Fifty-one percent disapprove of the job he is doing, up four points from last month.
Two-thirds of independents now express disappointment of some level in Obama, while only 6% claim to be “very satisfied.” That will hardly cheer up Democrats who have to woo indies in a midterm election when Obama and his voter-turnout machine will not be a factor.
For Obama, the job-approval number is actually the good news. It’s not as low as it was last fall, when it dropped to 38% in this series, but it reverses an upward trend since the shutdown. He fares worse on the economy (38/57) and on foreign policy (39/48), which used to be a relative strength for Obama. Independents sharply disapprove of Obama’s foreign policy (32/53), but it’s even worse on the economy, where independent disapproval is 2:1 at 31/62. The midterms won’t have much to do with foreign policy unless another spectacular failure arises, but it will have plenty to do with the economy.
Supporters of ObamaCare often argue that most Americans want it kept in place, but fixed — even though they rarely admit to it being broken. That’s true in this poll, too; 50% overall want it kept but “some changes” made to make it work, but 42% want it repealed altogether. Only 6% overall think it’s working well now, and only 13% of Democrats. Among independents, the Fix/Repeal option is only 49/45, within the margin of error, and only 3% think it’s working well. If Democrats are serious about running on ObamaCare as opposed to running away from it, they should get prepared for a very bad November. And perhaps they should start identifying the “fixes” needed, too, rather than take the Chip Diller “ALL IS WELL!!!” approach of Harry Reid and Kathleen Sebelius, because it’s clearly not fooling anyone.
The New York Times concludes that the GOP has the edge in this election cycle even with the intraparty debates and fights currently seen:
Republicans are in a stronger position than Democrats for this year’s midterm elections, benefiting from the support of self-described independents, even though the party itself is deeply divided and most Americans agree more with Democratic policy positions, the latest New York Times/CBS News poll shows. …
A majority of Americans surveyed also said they wanted both parties to do more to address the concerns of the middle class, reduce the budget deficit with both tax increases and spending cuts, and let illegal immigrants stay in the country and apply for citizenship. Mr. Obama shares those positions on the budget and immigration.
Those stances among voters have not translated into support for the president’s party, as 42 percent say they will back Republicans in November, and 39 percent indicate that they will back Democrats, a difference within the poll’s margin of sampling error.
There is a sense of foreboding in the public as well, with 63 percent of Americans saying the country is on the wrong track, and 57 percent indicating that they disapprove of Mr. Obama’s handling of the economy. In addition, eight in 10 Americans are dissatisfied or angry with the way things are going in Washington.
Midterm elections are usually about presidents, and six-year midterms even more so.
Amusingly, the discussion on CBS this morning was Republican disunity and Democratic unity, even though the poll shows quite clearly that neither will really play into the midterm election results. They may have an impact in 2016 if those dynamics are still in play, but the office-by-office nature of the midterms means most of what’s discussed here is at best secondary or even tertiary to the outcomes in November. States and districts will have enough Republican unity to prevail in the general election this year, while the Democratic disunity caused by ObamaCare will hobble their candidates, especially incumbents who voted for it.