The latest Washington Post-ABC News poll asked respondents whether they trust Obama or the Republicans in Congress to do a better job "coping with the main problems the nation faces over the next few years." Forty-one percent said they trusted Obama. Forty-one percent said they trusted Republicans in Congress.
A year ago, when pollsters asked the same question, Obama won 50 to 35. That he's now tied not just with Republicans, but with congressional Republicans two months after they shut down the government, shows how much damage the roll-out of the Affordable Care Act has done to perceptions of his administration's competence.
Obama's agenda has suffered in other ways, too. Voters now trust Republicans, 48-40, to pick the right mix of spending cuts. As recently as October, Obama led on that question 47-36.
There is some good news in the poll for Democrats. For one thing, the Affordable Care Act's popularity has rebounded a bit. In November, 57 percent opposed the health law while only 40 percent supported it. Now, however, 49 percent oppose it and 46 percent support it. Being slightly unpopular is a long shot better than being wildly unpopular.
The best news for Democrats in 2014 isn't political at all. Fifty-nine percent say the economy is recovering, while only 39 percent say it isn't. That's the most confident Americans have been in the recovery since at least 2009. In December 2010, for instance, 41 percent thought the recovery had begun, while 57 percent said it hadn't even started. Since growing economies tend to benefit the party that controls the White House, that's very good news for Democrats looking to avoid a repeat of 2010 -- particularly if HealthCare.Gov's improvements continue and Obama is able to rebuild his standing among voters.
Meanwhile, senators voting for the Ryan-Murray budget deal today got some good news. Americans approve of the agreement, 50 to 35 percent.