Obama’s Slide on Specific Issues Continues Despite White House Strategies

This post was written by Glen Bolger and Jim Hobart.

While much attention is (rightfully) being paid to President Obama’s approval rating dipping below 50% in numerous tracking polls, his approval numbers on issues have also continued their downward descent that began months ago.

According to a recent Bloomberg survey, the top four issues among Americans are the economy (48%), health care (20%), the federal budget deficit (16%) and the war in Afghanistan (10%). These numbers demonstrate stability in the country’s issue agenda, as they are largely unchanged from Bloomberg’s September survey.  What has changed, however, is Obama’s approval numbers on these four issues.

Looking first at the economy, Obama’s job rating has gone from a 50% approve/45% disapprove in September, to a 45% approve/50% disapprove now. On health care, Obama has gone from a 47% approve/48% disapprove to a 40% approve/53% disapprove. The numbers on Afghanistan experienced a similar slide, going from a solid 51% approve/36% disapprove to a much more middling 48% approve/43% disapprove. The data on his handling of the federal budget deficit saw the smallest decline, but only because it was already so dismal (38% approve/55% disapprove in September to 35% approve/57% disapprove now).

There are two reasons these numbers should be especially concerning to Obama and his team. First, these Bloomberg surveys are of adults, and samples of adults are always more
Dem friendly than samples of likely voters. (In other words, the numbers are most likely much worse among voters who will make up the 2010 electorate). Secondly, despite the best efforts of Obama and his advisers, they have been unable to find a way to stop the decline in the numbers. They have tried casting GOPers as “the party of no,” they have tried throwing out vague and unsubstantiated statistics about the number of jobs created and jobs saved, and they have tried speeches by the President, always their trump card during the campaign. None of it has worked.  The American people are tired of rhetoric laced with hope and are now waiting for progress marked by results. So far, they have just been left with a lot of empty promises.

Public Opinion Strategies