The October Shockwave—New Insights from the Latest NBC/WSJ Survey

Well, I used the wrong word.

In writing about this month’s earlier NBC/WSJ survey, I said “this type of data creates ripples that will take a long time to resolve …”


Wow, was that too careful!

The correct word is “shockwave.”

October has witnessed a substantial rewriting of a generation of NBC/WSJ data.

Here are the new lows and the depressing highs we have seen this October:

Direction of the Country:  Tied for the highest “off on the wrong track” (78{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}).

President Obama:  Lowest job approval of his presidency (42{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}); first net negative rating on the feeling thermometer (41{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} positive/45{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} negative); and, highest “very negative” rating on the feeling thermometer (32{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}).

The Republican Party:  Lowest positive rating (22{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}); highest negative rating (53{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}); and, first party to have over a 50{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} negative rating.

The Tea Party:  Lowest positive rating (21{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}); tied for the highest negative rating (47{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}); tied for lowest percentage of registered voters who say they are a supporter of the Tea Party Movement (20{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}).

Congress:  John Boehner highest negative rating (43{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}); Harry Reid highest negative rating (34{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}); Mitch McConnell highest negative rating (28{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}); highest percent saying “it is time to give a new person a chance” (63{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}); highest percent to want to vote for an Independent/third party candidate (30{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}); and, highest percent who said they would vote to “defeat and replace every single Member of Congress, including your own representative” (60{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}).

Health Care:  Tied for the highest percent who say they “strongly think” the new health care law is a bad idea (43{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}); and, of 15 major news stores since February 2011, the story with the highest percentage of adults who have heard “a lot” is the story of problems with the new federal health care exchange website (59{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}).

Party Identification:  Two surveys tracks in a row where the percentage of adults identifying as a Republican or a Democrat is below 50{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} of Americans.

This round of research now reflects the toll the shutdown and the problems with the roll-out of the government health exchange website have taken on the president’s standing.

A correct reading of these two surveys, though, provides a perspective that is far more important than the political points “scored” or “lost” from the events of the past month.  One needs to understand the significant consequences the recent events in Washington have had on the country, its sour mood, its lowered expectations, and the blow to economic confidence.  These events have deeply unsettled people and diminished the public confidence required of a great nation.

You can find the latest survey here.

Public Opinion Strategies