NBC/WSJ poll shows Obama approval at new low of 41%

The downward trajectory of Barack Obama’s approval ratings continues, this time in one of the friendliest poll series the White House enjoys. The President plunged to a new low in the NBC/WSJ poll approval ratings, with a 41/54 gap that aligns well with most other recent polling (except for a 48/48 tie in the latest Bloomberg poll). The bigger issue for Democrats is that voters are more inclined to use the midterms to punish Obama than praise him — and that may be a longer-term problem than just the midterms:

Barack Obama and his Democratic Party are facing difficult political headwinds less than eight months before November’s midterm elections, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

  • Obama’s job-approval rating has dropped to a low point of 41 percent, never a good position for the party controlling the White House;
  • By a 33 percent to 24 percent margin, Americans say their vote will be to signal opposition to the president rather than to signal support, though 41 percent say their vote will have nothing to do about Obama;
  • Forty-eight percent of voters say they’re less likely to vote for a candidate who’s a solid supporter of the Obama administration, versus 26 percent who say they’re more likely to vote for that candidate;
  • And Republicans hold a one-point edge over Democrats on which party registered voters prefer to control Congress, 44 percent to 43 percent. While that’s within the poll’s margin of error, Republicans have traditionally fared well in elections when they’ve held a slight lead on this question.

“The wind is in our face,” says Democratic pollster Fred Yang of Hart Research, who conducted this survey with Republican pollster Bill McInturff. “There is an advantage for Republicans right now.”

If the wind is in the face of Democrats, it’s at gale force in this poll. The right/wrong direction was at 41/53 just before the 2012 election, which Obama barely won; it’s now 26/65. The approval rating for Obama is worse now than it was when HHS laid an egg last October with ObamaCare.

Obama’s approval on the economy slightly improved from December’s all-time low in this series of 39/58, but the 41/56 rating now is (a) a margin-of-error change, and (b) the second-worst of the series. His ratings on foreign policy have now dropped to an all-time low as well of 41/53, although it was 41/49 last August, during the Syrian “red line” debacle. This may be a better indicator of Obama’s fall from polling grace, too, since foreign policy had been a strong suit in his polling. August 2013’s poll was the first time in his presidency that those ratings had gone negative. Now they match his overall rating; the red line, ObamaCare, and now Russia seems to have stripped the illusions of competence from the eyes of respondents.

The problem for Obama and Democrats in this poll is that his personal likeability no longer keeps his overall numbers afloat. The “personal feelings” rating for Obama is now 41/44, with 15% neutral, in this poll. At the beginning of October, Obama scored 47/41, and before the August “red line” debacle it was 48/40. The “very positive” rating in this survey of 21% is the lowest of the series; a year ago it was 30%, and at the time of the last election it was 34%.

This might not be the only election in which Democrats find the wind in their faces, either. A year ago, Hillary Clinton’s personal favorability was 56/29, with 32% very positive about the recently-retired Secretary of State and only 15% very negative. Those poll results came seven months after Benghazi, too. Today it’s 41/34, and 23/22 on the “very” ratings for the presumptive 2016 front-runner, respectively. If you need evidence of just how big a boat anchor Obama may be on his fellow Democrats, one need look no further than that change.

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David Strom 6:01 PM on March 29, 2023