In a curious but predictable divergence, Barack Obama’s popularity dropped while the deal he cut gained a broad political consensus. A new Marist poll shows Obama hitting his lowest approval rating yet in their survey series, dropping to 42/50 from 45/48 during Thanksgiving week. Even a ridiculously tilted sample of registered voters didn’t help:
According to this national McClatchy-Marist Poll, President Barack Obama’s approval rating has dipped to its lowest point since taking office. Currently, 42% of registered voters approve of the job the president is doing while half — 50% — disapprove. Eight percent are unsure. When McClatchy-Marist last asked this question in its November 24th survey, 45% thought his performance was on the mark while 48% thought it was subpar, and 7% were unsure. Prior to this survey, voters gave Mr. Obama his lowest approval rating in early October. At that time, 43% of registered voters thought he was performing well in office.
The change has occurred among members of the president’s own party. 74% of Democrats think Obama is performing well in office while 21% do not, and 5% are unsure. Late last month, those proportions stood at 83%, 11%, and 6%, respectively. Among Republicans, most — 87% — disapprove of Mr. Obama’s job performance while 7% approve. Six percent are unsure. Similar proportions of Republicans held these views late last month when 84% disapproved, 11% approved, and 5% were unsure. There has also been little movement among independent voters. Currently, 52% disapprove, 39% approve, and 9% are unsure. Late last month, those proportions were 54%, 38%, and 9%, respectively.
In other words, Obama gained no ground on the Right or in the middle, while losing ground on the Left. That would be a particularly difficult problem in this Marist poll, which uses a sample that gives Democrats a nine-point advantage, 37/28, with 33% independents. Gallup has put the national difference between the parties at somewhere between one to three points this year on party affiliation, and the most recent Rasmussen poll showed Republicans slightly ahead at 36/34.7, with indies at 29.3%. If Obama can’t do better than 42% while the sample comprises 37% Democrats, he really is in serious trouble.
However, the Washington Post poll shows that Obama had an opportunity to gain some ground:
A slender 11 percent of those polled back all four of the deal’s primary tax provisions: an across-the-board extension of Bush-era tax cuts, additional jobless benefits, a payroll tax holiday and a $5 million threshold for inheritance taxes. Just 38 percent support even two of the components.
But put all four items together, and 69 percent of all Americans support the package. Large majorities of Democrats, Republicans and independents alike favor the agreement, which has drawn stiff opposition from some Democrats in the House. In the poll, 69 percent of liberal Democrats support the agreement, which Obama has called a framework for legislation.
A majority of 54% support extending all of the current tax rates, including the rates for top earners. The only one of the four options opposed by a majority in this poll was the Social Security payroll tax “holiday,” which only got 39/57 approval in the poll. The “slender 11 percent” mainly results from this opposition, not the tax rate extension. Also, note that the sample for this poll wasn’t released by the WaPo, at least not yet.
So with this kind of popularity, why didn’t Obama get a bounce? It’s almost assuredly because of the temper tantrum he threw while pitching the deal. Instead of pulling the Clintonian move of getting in front of a deal and taking credit for it, Obama assumed it would be unpopular and instead cast blame for it on Republicans while calling them “hostage takers.” It seems that his performance didn’t do anything to build credibility with Republicans or independents, while liberal Democrats took him at his word about capitulating and gave him lower marks because of it.