President Obama's job approval rating has plunged to the lowest of his presidency, according to a new CBS News poll released Wednesday, and Americans' approval of the Affordable Care Act has dropped it's lowest since CBS News started polling on the law.Ouch—but not exactly surprising, given that even President Obama admits that the Obamacare rollout hasn't gone smoothly. I'm sure he'd love for those numbers to be higher, but the reality is that until things are turned around, these sorts of approval numbers aren't going to look good—nor should they. That's why the most important thing the administration can do is to make the policy work.
And that brings me to the second key finding in the poll, which has some bad news for Ted Cruz:
Just seven percent of Americans think the Affordable Care Act is working well and should be kept in place as it is. Far more, 48 percent, think there are some good things in the law, but changes are needed to make it work better, and another 43 percent think the law needs to be repealed entirely.So even though Obamacare now is pretty much at its lowest point ever, a clear majority opposes the Ted Cruz position, which is repealing it altogether. Moreover, support for repeal isn't exactly skyrocketing, despite all the problems of the past six weeks: that 43 percent figure is just 4 points higher than the 39 percent who supported repeal in CBS's July survey.
It's tempting to look at that 7 percent number as a very bad sign, but even the president doesn't take the position that the law is working perfectly and doesn't need changes. Like most Americans, Obama and the Democratic Party want Obamacare to work. On the other hand, Cruz—and pretty much the entire GOP—want it to fail. For them, it's repeal or bust. Changes to make it work better are off the table. If things get worse between now and November 2014, that position might work out for them, but if the program continues to improve, so will attitudes towards it, and Republicans will find themselves even more out of step with the public.