The slow erosion of Barack Obama’s popularity and perceived competence continues. In today’s Associated Press/GfK poll, Obama hits his lowest approval rating ever at 40% and his highest disapproval rating ever at 59%. His one bright spot in policy over the last few years has dimmed considerably as well:
Foreign policy used to be a bright spot in Americans’ dimming opinion of President Barack Obama. Not anymore. Associated Press-GfK polling found a spring and summer of discontent with the president’s handling of world events.
Obama’s consistently low marks across crises such as the fighting in Ukraine and the conflict between Israel and Hamas could benefit Republicans aiming to win control Congress in the fall. …
Asked about world trouble spots:
—42 percent say the conflict between Israel and Hamas is “very” or “extremely” important to them; 60 percent disapprove of the way Obama has handled it.
—40 percent consider the situation in Afghanistan highly important; 60 percent disapprove of Obama’s handling of it.
—38 percent give high importance to the conflict in Ukraine; 57 percent disapprove of what Obama has done about that.
—38 percent find the situation in Iraq of pressing importance; 57 percent disapprove of Obama’s handling of it.
We discussed the falling numbers for Obama’s foreign policy on the Hugh Hewitt show last night and the impact it would have on the midterms. It seems doubtful that foreign-policy questions will directly affect voter decisions this fall, as House and Senate races rarely have much to do with anything but domestic policy, and for good reason. Foreign policy is the purview of the executive branch, not the legislative, and midterm voters will focus more on issues closer to their own homes than abroad. What it will do, though, is to feed into a perception that the current administration is failing and perhaps even incompetent, which will have a significant indirect impact on both turnout and voter choices. If Obama is this unpopular and incompetent, the last thing voters will want is to send more Democrats to rubber-stamp his policies and actions.
The problem for Obama is that his domestic policies aren’t faring any better. He gets a 31/68 on immigration, for example, an issue which Democrats now want to use for the midterms as the GOP struggles to pass a bill dealing with the border crisis. Note this rather interesting shift:
AP/GfK: Americans view GOP as better to handle immigration 29-25, a gain of ten net points since May when Dems were favored 29-23.
— Josh Jordan (@NumbersMuncher) August 1, 2014
That looks more like a trap than an opportunity, although it looks better than talking about ObamaCare. In a new Kaiser Family Foundation poll, disapproval of ObamaCare jumped by the largest amount in months, and perhaps ever:
Even after survey after survey has recently shown a major drop in the nation’s uninsured rate, Obamacare just had its worst month in a key health-care poll.
Kaiser Family Foundation, which has done arguably the best and most consistent polling on the health-care law in the past four-plus years, found that public opinion on the law sank to a record low in July. More people than ever (53 percent) last month said they viewed the law unfavorably, an increase of 8 percentage points since June — one of the biggest opinion swings ever.
As the foundation notes, more people seemingly made up their minds about the law last month. The rate of those without an opinion on the Affordable Care Act dropped from 16 percent in June to 11 percent in July.
Historically, public opinion on the ACA hasn’t changed much since it was enacted, despite some notable monthly swings. Kaiser pollsters said it’s not clear what drove the change in opinion this month.
“Normally, when negatives go up, you can tie it to an event,” said foundation chief executive Drew Altman in an interview. Events like a broken enrollment Web site, or people losing their health plans.
The “event” may be fairly simple to explain: More and more of the enrollees now have had a chance to utilize their new coverage. They will increasingly start looking for providers who accept their coverage and find that the choices have significantly narrowed. They may find that the coverage for services no longer fits their particular situation as well as the plans they had in the past. Just extending coverage to the uninsured — some of whom, it should be recalled, were uninsured by choice — isn’t the end of the equation for consumers. They still have to get access to care, and see that as an overall bargain for the costs and trade-offs involved in ObamaCare.
This correlation seems to be borne out by Kaiser’s chart of public opinion on ObamaCare since its passage:
The Kaiser series has been one of the friendliest polls to ObamaCare since 2010. While other pollsters showed significant and sustained opposition to the law, Kaiser showed more of a mixed bag — until late 2013. When ObamaCare became a reality for millions of Americans who suddenly got forced into the exchanges and who lost their existing insurance, it became much more unpopular even in this series. And now that the enrollees have had some experience in seeking care through the mandated plans they had to choose, they’re not finding ObamaCare to be a positive experience in the aggregate. This chart shows the difference between the lofty promises Democrats made and the reality of what they delivered.
Democrats would rather talk about anything in the midterms than ObamaCare. Unfortunately for them, the upcoming enforcement of the employer mandate will spread the misery far wider for Americans than the 2013 rollout of ObamaCare did, as millions of consumers get dumped out of employer-based coverage and are forced into the exchanges for coverage. That will likely begin to happen in October of this year, as businesses have to prepare for their 2015 budgets, just a few weeks before those midterm elections. They may not want to discuss ObamaCare, but it may be the final straw for voters tiring of incompetence in the White House and in his political allies on Capitol Hill.