Are Obama’s Poll Numbers Tanking?


Are we seeing the general public coming to terms with who this President is?

The budget fight these past couple weeks have brought the country’s attention to how D.C. works…and they are not impressed.  Poll numbers for both Congress and Mr. Obama’s ability to the run the country are dropping.  For Congress, this is actually dropping after a short period of resurgence after Republicans took over last fall.

But on its three day rolling average, Gallup is now showing Mr. Obama at an all time low 41%.  His disapproval rating hit a peak of 50%.  RealClearPolitics tally has him at a -4.7, with an approval of 45.3%.  Those are not good re-election numbers.

A Marist poll echoes those sentiments. That poll, which was skewed toward Democrats to begin with (giving Democrats an 8 point edge, which is larger than what Obama beat McCain by in 2008) showed Obama weakening.  Only 70% of Democrats strongly favor re-election.  The poll shows 44% – a plurality – will not support Mr. Obama under any situation, while 37% state they will definitely vote for him.  And what of Independents, you might ask…

The president continues to struggle with those all-important independent voters.  47% of these voters say they don’t plan on casting their ballot for Obama while 32% do.  21% are unsure.  In the fall, half — 50% — believed they would back another candidate while three in ten — 30% — reported they would support the incumbent president.  20% were unsure.

I think more intriguing are the head-to-head numbers against Republicans.  In the Marist poll, Romney leads Obama 45-42.  Huckabee barely trails.  The RealClearPolitics poll of polls shows Obama running only 2.8% points ahead of the ‘generic’ Republican.  Huckabee and Romney, the most well known of the current contenders, run within close distance of Obama.  The others are either not yet serious candidates (Trump, Bachmann) or not well known nationally (Daniels, Pawlenty).

Gallup explains the the down tick less to the recent budget talks and the President’s speech on the topic, and more to decreased confidence in the economy and in rising gas prices.  The rising gas prices obviously makes sense, as prices hit $4 per gallon in many states.  But the economy?  The last few months, the White House has gone out of their way to tout the recovering economy.

But Chuck Todd over at NBC made a clear point:  the hyperpartisan budget speech last week likely hurt Obama with independents.  Although progressives were jumping for joy for the brisk attack on Paul Ryan’s plan, the problem with such an attack is that it loses more moderate voters than it gains with liberal ones.  Todd points out that every time the President gives such a speech, his poll numbers seem to drop.

It comes back to the economy, stupid.  And how the budget fight interacts with economic growth.  The Republican nominee matters, to some extent, but not as much as you think.  Almost any credible, well known Republican could beat Obama as long as they look Presidential and appeal to independents. And remember:  this poll is skewed toward Democrats.  The numbers are likely even better than stated above.

Of course, polls are polls.  They go up and down.  This could simply be a periodic downward moment for the President.  The worry in the White House, however, that it is more than that.