After the Tucson shooting and Barack Obama’s speech to the nation, polling showed a bounce in his approval ratings — unlinked, however, to any improvement on the issues. Voters appeared to remain opposed to Obama’s previous performance on jobs, the economy, and the deficit, but willing to give the President a chance to make good on his promises to reach across the aisle to newly-resurgent Republicans to chart a new course. According to the last several days of Rasmussen’s tracking poll, that window of opportunity looks like it’s closing fast:
The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Saturday shows that 23% of the nation’s voters Strongly Approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as president. Forty percent (40%) Strongly Disapprove, giving Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of -17 (see trends).
The president’s Approval Index ratings have fallen nine points since Monday as the crisis in Egypt unfolds. Most of the decline comes from a fall in the number who Strongly Approve of the president’s performance (30% on Monday, 23% now). However, for the first time since mid-December, the number who Strongly Disapprove has moved back over the 40% mark for five straight days. The Strongly Disapprove total had been above 40% for most of 2010 but fell to the high-30s after the president and Senate Republicans reached a deal to extend the Bush Administration tax cuts. …
Overall, 46% of voters say they at least somewhat approve of the president’s performance. Fifty-three percent (53%) disapprove.
Obama peaked in Rasmussen polling almost two weeks ago at 52/47, with a -4 on Rasmussen’s “presidential approval index,” the difference between strong approval and strong disapproval. That was Obama’s best rating since February 1, 2010, and the first time it had been in double digits since June 2010. Four days ago, Obama had a positive overall approval of 50/49, and now he’s -7 on that score too.
Did Egypt cause the bounce to deflate? It may certainly have been the catalyst. The steep drop began about the same time that Obama demanded an immediate “transition” from Mubarak, and seems to have accelerated as Mubarak defied Obama and then strengthened his position. That made the White House look foolish and defensive, and couldn’t help but erode Obama’s standing at home.
However, I think this is more due to the abrupt end of a second Obama honeymoon. The goodwill seems to have faded almost as soon as Obama left the podium from his State of the Union speech. In two days, the PAI jumped from -5 to -11 and his overall approval went from 52/47 to 47/51. The Egyptian crisis gave a slight boost initially to his standing, then a full tilt downward over the past week. The SOTU speech, chock full of demands for new spending, told voters that Obama hadn’t learned anything at all from his midterm defeat, and that his administration considered it business as usual. All it took was one major fumble to lose all the ground Obama gained coming out of the lame-duck session of Congress in December, and the Egyptian crisis provided it.