A day after a poll from Gallup says No Sign That Obama's Overall Job Approval Rating Has Been Significantly Affected", the NBC/WSJ poll (MoE +/- 3.1) says
This is a president who has been bruised and bloodied by the events of the past few months, although not yet knocked down, say the Democratic and Republican pollsters who conducted the survey.
"There is just no way that an American president is not going to see his job rating affected" after these events, observed GOP pollster Bill McInturff. "The little faint signs [of improvement] we were seeing in April and May have been squished by two months of this story in the Gulf."
Full results of the new poll are here, and are driving conversation on NBC and MSNBC. One of my frequent criticisms of media polls is the tendency to just look at your own. Still this is a very respected poll with a great track record of sharing data.
The story for the media is dropping Obama approval, now at 45/48. Also noted is a dropping right/wrong track (29/62, worst of the Obama administration) and a generic ballot that for the first time in years favors the GOP (at 45 GOP/43 Dem.) And the title quote comes from Peter Hart.
You know people are frustrated when they suggest voting for Republicans. People don't like Republicans (their positive/negative score is -12). But what's happened is negative perception of Democrats (now at -9) is growing.
Still, there's some interesting data in the numbers. Look at these other positive/negative scores, hardly an endorsement of Republicans:
Look at those BP numbers. Anyone wondering if Joe "I apologize" Barton will stay a topic for Democrats to discuss?
The economy, of course, tops all. Here, Obama gets a 46/50 approve/disapprove (was 48/46 in May.)
It's not health care that's driving the numbers. Asked about the Obama health care bill being a good idea or bad idea, the good bad numbers are 40/44, the best it's been in months. But what really irks people is the perception that the deficit has gotten too big, with spending out of control.
Some very interesting things emerge from the table of candidate characteristics, which are given a fav/unfav score depending on how the public feels about a candidate with these characteristics (see How would you feel if a candidate was endorsed by Sarah Palin? for details and an example.) For example, a candidate who supports cutting federal spending gets a +46, but a candidate who is endorsed by Obama gets a -7 (same as being a tea party supporter). And if you were wondering, an endorsement by Sarah Palin is worth a -27, and supporting the economic policies of George W. Bush is a -39. Sharron Angle's position? "Supports abolishing some federal agencies, including the Department of Education" and "Supports phasing out Social Security and instead supports allowing workers to invest their Social Security contributions in the stock market" both get a -42.
Still, the hit on the Obama numbers is the main story. From the WSJ write-up:
Support for Mr. Obama and his party is declining among centrist, independent voters. But, more ominous for the president, some in his base also are souring, with 17% of Democrats disapproving of Mr. Obama's job performance, the highest level of his presidency.
Whether its the ongoing spill, the jobs numbers or the McChrystal firing, we'll need to see if these numbers are sustained or yet another blip. But one thing's certain: trying to make this into a "choice, and we are better than them" rather than a "referendum on us" election is going to be central to Democratic strategy from now until November. The question remains: given how much people don't like Republicans, what's that mean when it comes to November? This is as good a summary as any:
Much of the erosion in Obama's numbers has come from the middle. His approval among independents is upside down at 37%-52%; his approval in the suburbs is 44%-50%; his approval among suburban women is at 44%-51%; and his approval in the Midwest -- which was an important source of strength for him in 2008, in both the primaries and general election -- is at 44%-52%. What continues to sustain Obama, even during these tough times, is his base. African Americans approve of his job by a whopping 91%-5%; Hispanics back him 60%-33%; those 18 to 34 approve of his job by a 53%-40% (though that's down); and Democrats back him 76%-17% (though that's also down a few ticks). Our pollsters wouldn't say if Obama's overall approval rating has reached its floor, but they say that the way he gets his numbers up is for the right track/wrong track numbers to improve. And that means more people feeling better about the state of the economy and the situation in the Gulf.
Little support for Republican/teabagger policy, no rehab for Bush, great unhappiness with the status quo. The Gulf situation may well be better by November, but the economy and jobs? We'll see.