The Washington Post

President Obama: Mr. Fix-it no longer

Americans have lost confidence in President Obama's ability to get things done, according to a Pew Research Center poll released Wednesday. But after public fights to avoid sequester budget cuts and pass new gun-control laws have stalled, Obama has also garnered some sympathy — two-thirds say he fights hard for his policies, and twice as many blame Republicans leaders in Congress than Obama for a lack of compromise in Washington.

Just 49 percent of the public says Obama is "able to get things done," down from 57 percent in January and closer to his levels of confidence in 2012. But the vast majority of Americans, 67 percent, believe Obama is fighting hard for his policies, a quality that has been questioned in the wake of legislative setbacks.

On the most important issues facing the country, fully eight in 10 say that Obama and Republicans are not working together. Roughly twice as many blame Republican leaders in Congress for the not working together as blame Obama (42 percent vs. 22 percent), tying the widest margin in Pew Research polls since 2009. One reason for the gap: 70 percent of Democrats blame Republicans, but only 53 percent of Republicans blame Obama.

It's unclear whether Republicans' blame deficit will have any electoral consequence. Voters are 18 months from the next congressional election, and it's not clear a lack of compromise would tilt the electoral scales even if it were sooner. Republicans also were blamed more than Obama in early 2010, but later that year gained 63 seats to take control of the House of Representatives.

The lack of compromise does have clear consequences for Obama, whose chances of executing his agenda become more difficult as the 2014 midterm elections approach. Without that, Americans' belief that he is "trying hard" may provide little solace.

Scott Clement is a pollster with Capital Insight, the independent polling group of Washington Post Media.

Scott Clement is the polling manager at The Washington Post, specializing in public opinion about politics, election campaigns and public policy.

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Get Zika news by email

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Comments
Show Comments
Republicans debate tonight. The South Carolina GOP primary and the Nevada Democratic caucuses are next on Feb. 20. Get caught up on the race.
The Fix asks The State's political reporter where the most important region of the state is.
He says he could talk about Charleston, which represents a little bit of everything in the state has to offer from evangelicals to libertarians, and where Ted Cruz is raising more money than anywhere else. In a twist, Marco Rubio is drawing strong financial support from more socially conservative Upstate. That said, Donald Trump is bursting all the conventional wisdom in the state. So maybe the better answer to this question is, "Wherever Trump is."
Past South Carolina GOP primary winners
South Carolina polling averages
Donald Trump leads in the first state in the South to vote, where he faces rivals Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.
South Carolina polling averages
The S.C. Democratic primary is Feb. 27. Clinton has a significant lead in the state, whose primary falls one week after the party's Nevada caucuses.
62% 33%
The complicated upcoming voting schedule
Feb. 20

Democrats caucus in Nevada; Republicans hold a primary in South Carolina.

Feb. 23

Republicans caucus in Nevada.

Feb. 27

Democrats hold a primary in South Carolina.

Upcoming debates
Feb 13: GOP debate

on CBS News, in South Carolina

Feb. 25: GOP debate

on CNN, in Houston, Texas

March 3: GOP debate

on Fox News, in Detroit, Mich.

Campaign 2016
Where the race stands

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.