President Obama wipes the sweat from his face after speaks at a fundraiser on the eve of his 50th birthday, Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2011, in Chicago. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

Another new poll shows President Obama's approval rating dropping, with just 40 percent of registered voters viewing his tenure in a positive light. The poll also shows the GOP asserting what would be quite a favorable lead in a generic 2014 matchup, 43 percent to 38 percent.

But at least on its surface, the McClatchy/Marist College poll suggests the 2014 election isn't really about Obama. In fact, most registered voters -- and the vast majority of swing voters -- say he's not even a factor for them.

The poll shows just 29 percent of Americans say Obama is a major factor in their vote, with another 17 percent saying he's a minor factor. A majority, meanwhile, says Obama has no effect whatsoever on whom they vote for (52 percent).

In addition, most of those who say the election for them is about Obama are already partisans -- 48 percent of Democrats and 56 percent of Republicans. Among independents, just 37 percent cite Obama as either a major (22 percent) or a minor factor (15 percent) factor in their vote. Six in 10 say he doesn't matter one lick.

And that might actually under-sell the lack of Obama-related motivation among those in the political middle. Among independents who don't lean toward either party -- let's call them "pure independents" -- 68 percent say Obama doesn't matter for them.


Now, Obama is surely a factor in the 2014 election. The history of midterms suggests an incumbent president has a very difficult time maintaining his party's congressional standing. In addition, just because people say it's not about Obama doesn't mean that's not really part of their calculus. Those who feel strongly about Obama will probably vote in higher number than those who don't; such is the nature of a midterm election, in which the most motivated and politically polarized voters tend to dominate the electorate more so than a presidential election. Also, the Senate battle is notably being fought on very red turf, where voters are definitely more anti-Obama than the broader electorate.

But the poll also suggests that most Americans, and the vast majority of swing voters, aren't heading to the ballot box with Obama on the mind.

And for Democrats who are worried that their president's long-standing unpopularity will be their death knell in 2014, that's not nothing.