The latest New York Times/CBS News poll should cause some reflection in this town. I know, I know, wishful thinking on my part. But dare to dream. What the survey of the national mood shows is that the American people aren’t as enamored with the Tea Party as the Tea Partyers in Congress might think. They’re none-too-pleased with Congress overall and Speaker Boehner in particular. And when it comes to President Obama, here’s the kicker: Despite being knocked around in the debt-ceiling drama, he is doing relatively okay.
At 82 percent disapproval, Congress has the highest negative rating in the history of the poll. Boehner’s job performance got a thumbs down from 57 percent of those surveyed. His approval rating is just 30 percent. Folks were none-too-pleased by the debt-ceiling mess. They didn’t like how anybody behaved. Not Republicans (72 percent). Not Democrats (66 percent). And the disapproving view of the Tea Party, which has members of Congress who profess to do its bidding, continues to grow. The Times poll from April put the approve-disapprove at 26 percent-29 percent. Today, it’s 20 percent-40 percent. Not only that, now 43 percent think the Tea Party has too much influence on the GOP. In April, it was just 27 percent.
Through the wreckage of the last month emerges Obama. Battered and bruised, for sure. But still standing.
Compared to Congress, Americans liked his handling of the debt-ceiling negotiations: 46 percent approve, 47 percent not so much. They trust him more to make the right decisions on the economy (47 percent) than congressional Republicans (33 percent). And they like job he’s doing, again relatively speaking. Obama’s approval rating rests at 48 percent.
Of course, not all polls show the same result. Gallup puts the president’s weekly job approval rating at 42 percent. The Pew Research Center shows Obama at 44 percent. The Post-ABC News poll from last month showing him with 47 percent job approval pretty much mirrors the Times poll.
Ever since Obama walked through the doors of the Oval Office for the first time as president, he has been beset by one crisis after another that would sap his support or raise doubts about him and his leadership. There was the imploding economy in early 2009 and the actions taken to prevent another Depression; the politically debilitating health-care debate and the law that helped fuel the rise of the Tea Party and the loss of the House; the response to the gulf oil spill and the swine flu epidemic; the struggling economic recovery and frustration over the lack of jobs; the debt-ceiling fiasco; the delegitimizing birther nonsense that gained traction; and a Republican minority in the Senate and then a Republican majority in the House that see their sole purpose as thwarting anything that might be viewed as a success for the president, even if it might do right by the country.
Given all that, a 48 percent approval rating is damned impressive.