WaPo/ABC poll shows Obama losing command of the issues

The Washington Post reports that Republicans have closed the gap with Democrats on most of the issues in their latest polling, which also shows Barack Obama losing majorities on most of them as well.  The WaPo/ABC poll gives Obama a 51% job approval rating, one of the highest among national pollsters at the moment, but it still represents a drop in the gap between approval and disapproval of three points since the last survey three weeks ago:


Republicans have significantly narrowed the gap with Democrats on who is trusted to deal with the country’s problems and have sharply reduced several of President Obama’s main political advantages, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The survey paints a portrait of a restless and dissatisfied electorate at the beginning of a critical election year. More than seven in 10 Americans disapprove of the job Congress is doing, and as many say they’re inclined to look for new congressional representation as said so in 1994 and 2006, the last times that control of Congress shifted.

Asked how they would vote in the November House elections, Americans split evenly — 46 percent siding with the Democrats, 46 percent with the Republicans. As recently as four months ago, Democrats held a 51 to 39 percent advantage on this question.

Obama’s overall approval rating is holding steady, with 51 percent of respondents giving him positive marks and 46 percent rating him negatively. On the big domestic issues — the economy, health care, jobs and the federal budget deficit — bare majorities of Americans disapprove of the job he is doing.

Only on fighting terrorism does Obama receive majority support for his performance, with 56 percent saying they approve. But the poll shows majority opposition to the administration’s plan to try terrorism suspects in federal courts.

It’s a little strange to have a President below 50% on almost every issue and still have a 51% job approval rating.  This time, the problem can’t be blamed on the sample, although it may still be somewhat skewed against the GOP.  The gap between Republicans and Democrats has shrunk to six points, 32/26, with 39% reporting as independents.  That’s an improvement from the last poll, which showed a ridiculous nine-point gap, but six points may still be too high.  It’s at least arguably in the ballpark, and certainly now close to the margin of error.


How does Obama do on the issues? He’s under water on almost all of them:

  • Health care – 43/53, his worst showing, with 43% strongly disapproving
  • Economy – 45/53, also his worst showing, with 38% strongly disapproving
  • Federal deficit – 40/56, 40% strongly disapproving
  • Creating jobs – 47/51
  • Threat of terrorism – 56/39, slightly improved over last two months

The findings on health care and the federal deficit are striking in that the percentage of overall support he gets is exactly matched by those strongly disapproving of his performance.  On health care, while Obama and his allies on Capitol Hill plot to get ObamaCare passed, his numbers continue to slide in what has always been a strong issue for Democrats.  It doesn’t help that ObamaCare is opposed in this poll 46/49, with 38% strongly opposed as compared to 22% strongly supporting it.  In all but one category, Obama has sunk far below the underwater mark, and so far, it appears that he is incapable of shifting to address his precarious position.

Democrats have problems overall as well in this poll.   The trust gap with voters has almost entirely collapsed.  A year ago, voters trusted Democrats over Republicans 56% to 30%; two months prior to that, it was 56/23.  After a year of one-party governance, the gap is now almost within the margin of error at 43/37.  When comparing Obama to the Congressional Republicans on the issues, Obama still leads every category, but only within the margin of error — even on terrorism, where Obama has his best showing among respondents when considered by himself.


That manifests itself in the generic Congressional ballot.  Among all respondents, it comes out as a tie — but this poll samples adults in its overall reporting.  When narrowed to registered voters, Republicans edge out Democrats 48/45.  Four months ago, Democrats had a 12-point lead.  It didn’t take long for the all-Democrat show in Washington to sour voters on Hopenchange.

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