Recent polls have shown a rapid decline in Barack Obama’s standing with the American public, but the new Reuters/Ipsos poll is the most dramatic — although technically, it’s not a decline. His job approval has dropped to 39/55, and the Democratic Party doesn’t get above 40% in trust for any of the major issues on the table. Neither does the GOP, though, which shows a deep credibility problem for both major parties (via Jim Geraghty).
First, let’s take a look at the breakdowns on Obama’s performance. Democrats approve overall 74/22, but only 35% strongly approve, which is an interesting figure among his own party As one might expect, Republicans highly disapprove at 12/88. The score among independents is what’s killing Obama at the moment — a 23/69, which is going to be a huge problem for vulnerable Democrats in next year’s midterms if Obama can’t right the ship before then. Only 10% of independents strongly approve, as opposed to 39% who strongly disapprove. Those kind of numbers may threaten Democrats in some districts and states previously seen as safer, too.
However, this is not a drop in approval for Obama, at least not within this series. Disapproval spiked in September at 56% in the last poll two weeks ago, where Obama also had a 39% approval rating. It’s still a decline from August, where several Reuters polls put Obama approval between 41-43%, within the margin of error from September. In July, Obama bottomed out at 40/51. This chart shows the pattern for 2013:
The widening of the split in this series began in July, but has accelerated through August and September. That’s more than just Syria at work, although that certainly isn’t helping.
The right/wrong track numbers show a bigger problem for Democrats, though, who control the White House and Senate and have for more than four years. That number is now 22/64, which is hardly an endorsement of current leadership. Among Democrats it’s just 43/41, but among independents it falls to 14/71. The right/wrong track is open to interpretation, but it’s generally seen as an indicator of satisfaction with the party in power. That’s not a good sign for the White House. This is roughly within the same territory as RCP’s overall polling trend on the direction question, which shows a widening negative split this year as well.