Gallup reports: “President Barack Obama averaged a 43% job approval rating for the week of July 18-24, tied for the lowest weekly average of his administration. Obama’s rating at this point is lower than President Bill Clinton’s ratings were in the fall of 1995 when he was embroiled in a budget dispute similar to the one Obama faces now.”It’s not just one week, of course. The direction of Obama’s approval ratings has been one way for a few weeks: down.
Then the Washington Post-ABC poll tells us:
More than a third of Americans now believe that President Obama’s policies are hurting the economy, and confidence in his ability to create jobs is sharply eroding among his base, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
The fact that the public also disapproves of Congress and also blames George W. Bush for the recession is of little solace to a president facing neither on the 2012 ballot: “The poll showed support for Obama’s economic agenda has begun to slip in the past nine months. The percentage of people who said Obama has made the economy worse jumped six points since October to 37 percent. That creates a bigger opening for Republican attacks as the presidential campaign begins to heat.” The drop in support from his base may explain why he gave a campaign-type speech last night centering on taxing the rich. (“The Post-ABC poll found that the number of liberal Democrats who strongly support Obama’s record on jobs plunged 22 points from 53 percent last year to 31 percent. The number of African Americans who believe the president’s actions have helped the economy has dropped from 77 percent in October to just over half of those surveyed.”)
This data should dispel three myths that are mouthed over and over again by Democrats. You can hear earnest Democratic operatives, pollsters and Obama officials repeat perfectly ridiculous assertions as if they were inviolate truths. But increasingly, the talking points wear thin.
First, Obama spinners would have us believe the more Obama the better. (The public loves this guy! The public understands he’s so reasonable and the Republicans are such meanies!) He has been everywhere, constantly. He is a press-conference-aholic. He chides. He finger-wags. He condescends. I mean even the administration’s BFF David Brooks can’t take it any more:
Obama never should have gone in front of the cameras just minutes after the talks faltered Friday evening. His appearance was suffused with that “I’m the only mature person in Washington” condescension that drives everybody else crazy. Obama lectured the leaders of the House and Senate in the sort of patronizing tone that a junior high principal might use with immature delinquents. He talked about unreturned phone calls and being left at the altar, personalizing the issue like a spurned prom date.
In other words, the more he is out there, the less the public likes what he is doing.
Second, Democrats insist that Obama is winning this debt-ceiling fight. That’s puzzling since the president has gotten almost nothing (not taxes, not a deal through 2012, not a clean debt bill) of what he wanted in the debt-ceiling deal. Now we’re quibbling over how much to cut. He sure isn’t winning substantively. And the speech last night, devoid of any recognition that the Senate Democrats are presenting a bill that meets virtually none of the criteria he set forth, indicates Obama knows it. He’s moving on, using the opportunity to make a standard-issue class warfare campaign speech. Both Obama’s poll numbers and the context of last night’s speech suggest the White House understandably wants to get off this issue.
Third, Democrats insist that the public will rally to Obama once he makes clear what the Republicans really stand for. In other words, vilifying Republicans boosts his own standing. Actually, not. He paints the Republicans as rich guys; his approval goes down. He paints the Republicans as stubborn; his approval goes down. The Republicans in the House may not be doing so great in the polls either, but that doesn’t improve the public’s opinion of him. Democratic pollsters will bombard you with polls. The public thinks the Republicans are to blame more than Obama! The public thinks Obama is compromising more! Who cares? The question is whether Obama is helping himself in 2012 against a Republican nominee who’s been no part of this fight.
In the end, the president, as he once lectured us, is going to be judged on the results of his policies. So far his policies (on spending, on economic recovery) are failing. No wonder his standing with the voters is crumbling.