For Republicans, President Obama Is The Gift That Keeps On Giving

In our latest NBC/WSJ poll* President Obama gets a poor report card from the American public, and while he’s not up for re-election this year, his ratings will have an impact on the outcome of the mid-term elections.

Consider the evidence:

  • This month the President’s job performance rating is at 47{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} approve, 48{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} disapprove.  This is the eighth track in a row that his approval rating is at or below 50{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} and this is a key measure.  Historically we know that when a President’s job approval rating is below 50{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} there is a significant shift in House seats during mid-term elections – on average 40+ seats switch hands.  When you dig below the surface there are more worrying indicators for the White House.  This is also the eighth consecutive track where the President receives a double-digit net negative job approval from Whites (38{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} approve, 56{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} disapprove), and Independents give him their worst rating to date (31{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}/60{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}).
  • The President receives an all time NBC/WSJ tracking high on his negative image rating (41{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}), and the closest positive-negative margin to date (46{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} positive, 41{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} negative).  Also, for first time, he receives a net negative rating among men (43{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}/45{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}) and Independents (31{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}/49{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}).
  • The majority of Americans feel the Obama Administration has fallen short on the major issues of the day:  the economy (66{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} fallen short), reducing government spending (70{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}), the federal budget deficit (67{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}), health care (55{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}).  Even on the core covenant he made with the American people during his 2008 campaign – that is, changing business as usual in Washington – 65{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} believe he has fallen short.

But, it’s not just these hard political ratings that are having an impact, it’s the apparent tone-deaf ear of this White House that fails to hear or understand what’s important to Americans these days – and that’s providing daily fodder for Republican candidates running for Congress.

One wonders why the President decided to send First Lady Michelle and daughter Sasha on vacation to Spain while the rest of the country struggles through this difficult economy.  And, just when you thought the White House couldn’t be more insulated by their bubble, President Obama decides to wade into the highly controversial issue of whether a mosque should be built beside Ground Zero.

As a pollster, I’m not here to comment on the moral or religious beliefs behind the mosque debate, but I can read the data.  A recent CNN poll** showed 68{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} are opposed to the idea of putting a mosque two blocks from where the World Trade Center used to stand, and a Fox News poll*** found that 64{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} of voters think it is wrong to build it so close – that includes 56{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} of Democrats and 53{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} of Independents.  Perhaps President Obama and his entourage should have done a little research before catapulting him into this mess when he had no reason to engage in it at all.

It’s baffling, to say the least.  But, these are the choices he has made and they are helping contribute to his party’s demise this fall.  Republicans can just say “thank you” and work with the material he provides.


*NBC/WSJ national survey conducted August 5-9, 2010 among 1,000 adults.
**CNN/Opinion Research national survey conducted August 6-10, 2010 among 1,009 adults.
*** Fox News/Opinion Dynamics national survey conducted August 10-11, 2010 among 900 registered voters.

(Public Opinion Strategies partners with Peter D. Hart Research Associates to conduct the NBC/WSJ linkedin profile polls. Neither Peter D. Hart Research Associates nor NBC/WSJ are responsible for these conclusions.)

Public Opinion Strategies