For the Washington Post and ABC News, the key takeaway from their new national poll is apparently supposed to be President Obama’s declining fortunes. The Post’s lede reads, “The afterglow of President Obama’s reelection and inauguration appears to have vanished.”
And in a literal sense, that’s true. On Election Day 2012, when Obama won by 5 million votes and earned 332 electoral votes, the president had a 50/46 approval/disapproval rating, and in today’s poll, he once again has a 50/46 approval/disapproval rating. He got a bump earlier in the year, which has since gone away.
But I thought it’d be worthwhile to put together a chart showing the approval ratings for Washington’s major players.
Did the president get a post-election bounce that has since faded? Sure. But looking at this chart, I don’t think it’s Obama who has a popularity problem.
This isn’t a matter of opinion; it’s a matter of looking at the numbers on the page. The president’s standing was clearly stronger immediately after his inauguration, and the honeymoon didn’t last. Weeks of sustained media coverage about how it’s Obama’s fault that Republicans won’t compromise or even negotiate may have taken a toll on his support.
But for goodness sakes, 72% of the country – 72% – disapprove of congressional Republicans. Among self-identified moderates, it’s 81% – and the poll was taken before the House Republican budget, which hopes to scrap Medicare and give millionaires another tax break, was released. What’s more, GOP lawmakers receive the bulk of the blame for the sequestration fiasco.
If the political world is going to focus on “vanishing” levels of public support, to focus on the president, who remains relatively popular, is to miss what matters most.
Greg Sargent flagged some additional gems from the same poll:
* 68 percent want Obama and the GOP to work together to avert the cuts, while only 28 percent want them to continue (the conservative position).
* 71 percent oppose cutting spending on Medicaid to replace the cuts; and 60 percent oppose raising the Medicare eligibility age to replace them. By contrast, 58 percent support replacing the cuts with more targeted cuts to military spending.
* 56 percent support replacing the cuts with an agreement that includes limiting deductions enjoyed by higher income individuals.
I don’t imagine the White House is thrilled to see Obama’s support slip in the poll, but it’s Republicans who should probably be nervous about public attitudes right now.