If you just looked at the headline (Confidence in Obama reaches new low, Washington Post-ABC News poll finds) you'd get the impression the bottom has fallen out. Not so. But it's the economy, stupid.
Latest WaPo poll (MoE +/- 3.5):
Public confidence in President Obama has hit a new low, according to the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll. Four months before midterm elections that will define the second half of his term, nearly six in 10 voters say they lack faith in the president to make the right decisions for the country, and a clear majority once again disapproves of how he is dealing with the economy.
Note that the "new low" in approval is still 50/47, and there are events from capping the spill to passing financial regulatory reform that might impact these numbers, but the economic performance is still driving negative views.
How much confidence do you have in [ITEM] to make the right decisions for the country's future - a great deal of confidence, a good amount, just some or none at all?
7/11/10 - Summary Table
-Grt deal/Good amt- ---- Some/None ----
Great Good Just None No
NET deal amt NET some at all opinion
a. Obama 43 24 19 57 28 29 *
b. The Republicans
in Congress 26 8 18 73 43 29 1
c. The Democrats
in Congress 32 12 20 67 35 32 1
Not an overwhelming stampede to Republicans (but Dems hold the most seats.) And until there's more jobs, who is happy and why would they be?
More from the WaPo:
At the same time, Democrats generally continue to hold the edge over Republicans when it comes to dealing with the nation's fragile economy. But that Democratic lead is slimmer than it was in 2006 before the party won back control of Congress. And among those most likely to vote this year, 39 percent trust the Democrats more and 40 percent the Republicans. About 17 percent of likely voters put their confidence in neither side.
Public opinion is split down the middle on the question of whether the government should spend more money to stimulate the economy in a way that leads to job creation. Among those who support such new spending, 18 percent change their minds when asked what they think if such outlays could sharply increase the budget deficit. In that scenario, 57 percent opposed another round of spending.
Which political party, the (Democrats) or the (Republicans), do you trust to do a better job handling the economy?
Both Neither No
Democrats Republicans (vol.) (vol.) opinion
7/11/10 42 34 3 17 5
3/26/10 44 36 3 16 1
2/1/08 52 33 2 10 3
12/9/07 51 33 2 9 5
11/1/07 50 35 3 9 4
9/30/07 51 33 2 11 3
The impact on who to vote for is here:
On another subject: Right now, are you inclined to vote to re-elect your representative in Congress in the next election or are you inclined to look around for someone else to vote for?
Re-elect Look around (vol.) No opinion
7/11/10 All 25 60 6 8
7/11/10 RV 26 62 6 6
6/6/10 All 29 60 5 6
6/6/10 RV 30 59 5 5
4/25/10 RV 32 57 7 4
2/8/10 RV 37 56 5 3
11/15/09 All 38 50 6 5
5/15/06 RV 37 54 6 3
6/5/05 All 40 50 8 3
(ASKED OF REGISTERED VOTERS) If the election for the U.S. House of Representatives in November were being held today, would you vote for (the Democratic candidate) or (the Republican candidate) in your congressional district? (IF OTHER, NEITHER, DK, REF) Would you lean toward the (Democratic candidate) or toward the (Republican candidate)?
NET LEANED VOTE PREFERENCE
Dem Rep Other Neither Will not No
cand. cand. (vol.) (vol.) vote (vol.) opinion
7/11/10 RV 46 47 * 2 * 5
6/6/10 RV 47 44 2 2 1 4
4/25/10 RV 48 43 1 2 1 6
3/26/10 RV 48 44 1 2 * 4
2/8/10 RV 45 48 * 3 * 4
10/18/09 All 51 39 1 3 2 5
6/15/08 All 52 37 * 2 1 8
The best term for this is "continued erosion". The generic numbers above are better than Feb, but still do not favor Democrats (who typically need to lead by 5 points or so to make up for those who don't show up at the polls.) If you're an incumbent (any incumbent, any party), your seat is not safe. Just saying no isn't a ticket to popularity for Republicans in this poll, and Republicans (and ther lack of public confidence) remain the best thing going for Democrats. Is that enough? Not to prevent seats from being lost. But there'll be some seats Republicans should win that they won't, and there's still no unusual groundswell of angry mobs wiuth pitchforks who demand to vote in an off year election:
ASKED OF REGISTERED VOTERS) I'd like you to rate the chances that you will vote in the Congressional election in November: Are you absolutely certain to vote, will you probably vote, are the chances 50-50, or less than that?
Don't think Already
Certain Probably Chances Less than will vote voted No
to vote vote 50/50 50/50 (vol.) (vol.) opin.
7/11/10 RV 73 13 11 2 * NA *
6/6/10 RV 72 14 11 3 * NA 0
11/4/06* RV 70 11 7 4 2 5 *
10/22/06 RV 75 14 7 3 * 1 2
*"next week's Congressional election"
Off-years are still low turnout elections, which is why it's still important for Democrats to reach out to their base (and why the "enthusiasm gap" keeps getting written up ad nauseum - as Tom Jenson has pointed out, unenthusiastic votes count as much as enthusiastic ones.) That is, it's important if Democrats want to keep their jobs. Will voters who don't like anyone vote? Who will they vote for? Will a capped well and a rising Dow change minds? Will new voters who showed up for Obama show up in an off-year? Stay tuned.