WaPo/ABC poll shows Obama approval tumbling, competence suspect

When I left on vacation two weeks ago, Barack Obama’s poll numbers had started turning sour.  On my first day back, Obama’s plunge has caught up with the Washington Post/ABC poll, where a majority of voters disapprove of his overall performance for the first time in over a year, and a new low approve at 42/55. The poll also shows the highest level ever of opposition to ObamaCare:

The flawed rollout of the Affordable Care Act has pushed President Obama to the lowest point of his presidency, with dwindling faith in his competence and in many of the personal attributes that have buoyed him in the past, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Opposition to the new health-care law also hit a record high in the survey, with 57 percent saying they oppose the president’s most significant domestic initiative. Forty-six percent say they are strongly against it. Just a month ago, as the enrollment period was beginning, the public was almost evenly divided in its assessments of the law.

Disapproval of Obama’s handling of the health-care law’s rollout stands at 63 percent, with a majority saying they strongly disapprove. Last month, 53 percent disapproved.

The findings are the first since Obama’s news conference last week in which he repeatedly acknowledged his and the administration’s mistakes in handling the legislation. He also sought to assuage the anger among millions of Americans whose individual policies were canceled because they did not meet the new requirements.

Clearly, the apology offered belatedly last week to millions of Americans who discovered that Obama’s “you can keep your plan” promise was a baldfaced lie isn’t doing anything to contain the damage. The wonder might be that his approval level is still above 40%, although it’s good to remember that the WaPo/ABC series is one of the more sympathetic to Obama on overall approval.  Quinnipiac put him at 39% last week, nad both Pew and National Journal put Obama’s approval under 40% the week before that. His RCP average has descended to 40.8%, and there isn’t much reason to believe that he’ll bounce back soon.

To that point, Obama’s sub-category approvals look even worse:

  • Economy – 41/57
  • ObamaCare implementation – 33/63
  • Strong leader – 46/53
  • Understands your problems – 47/51
  • Honest and trustworthy – 47/50
  • Good manager – 41/56

About the only positive from this poll is that people still believe that Obama believed what he said when he promised that people could keep their plans, at least by a thin margin at 52/44. That’s not reflected in his underwater honesty assessment, though, and the upshot of that is that Obama is incompetent rather than dishonest.  And it doesn’t buy Democrats much, either, since people are much more likely to vote against a Congressional candidate who supports ObamaCare (37/21).

In short, this is a disastrous poll reading.  The White House will like the new poll from National Journal much better, not because it helps them but because it doesn’t hurt quite as badly:

Despite sharp divisions over the long-term impact of President Obama’s health-reform law, fewer than two in five Americans say it should be repealed, virtually unchanged since last summer, the latest United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll has found.

Amid all the tumult over the law’s troubled implementation, the survey found that public opinion about it largely follows familiar political tracks and has changed remarkably little since the summer on the critical question of what Congress should do next. On that measure, support for repeal has not significantly increased among any major group except Republicans and working-class whites since the Congressional Connection Poll last tested opinion on the question in July.

While the survey found a slim majority believes the law will do more to hurt than help the nation’s health care system over time, it also found the statute retains majority support among key elements of the modern Democratic coalition, including minorities, college-educated white women, and young people. That means Congressional Democrats inclined to distance themselves from the law in the hope of placating skeptical independent or Republican-leaning voters face the risk of alienating some of their core supporters.

Conversely, the overwhelming opposition to the law within the GOP coalition—with nearly nine in 10 self-identified Republicans calling the law “fundamentally flawed” and nearly three-fourths of them supporting its repeal—ensures that Republican legislators will continue to face grassroots pressure to roll it back, by any means available.

The White House will point out that only 38% want the law repealed in this poll, but that’s inched up slightly from 36% in mid-July.  The actual breakout, though, is whether to repeal it, wait a bit longer to see what happens, or to commit more money to it to fix the problems.  Only 23% support that last option, while 35% want to see just how bad it gets before taking any action. Among independents, 40% want full repeal now, 35% want to wait a little longer, and just 20% want more money allocated to ObamaCare implementation. Only 42% of Democrats want to commit more money to ObamaCare’s implementation at this point, and that’s the highest of any of the subgroups.