By Dave Andrusko
When the headline for the lead story in today’s Washington Post reads, “Post-ABC News poll shows Democrats at risk in November as Obama’s approval rating falls,” you know the results of this survey of 1,000 adults must have been ominous.
And that conclusion is certainly borne out by Dan Balz’s and Peyton M. Craghill’s lead paragraph:
“Democrats face serious obstacles as they look to the November elections, with President Obama’s approval rating at a new low and a majority of voters saying they prefer a Congress in Republican hands to check the president’s agenda, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.”
Since awful poll numbers for President Obama are nothing new, let’s investigate why the Post is panicking.
- Obama’s approval number is down to 41%. So? It was at 46% the first three months of the year. If you read carefully a ton of stories over the last couple of weeks, you know that reporters and columnists had convinced themselves that Obama—and by extension the Democrats running in November—had turned a corner. And then….this. (And a National Journal poll, which we’ll discuss below.)
- The Post and ABC News keeps cranking out poll data that shows the public is much more supportive of ObamaCare than does any other poll; indeed slightly more approve than disapprove in this one. Just a couple of weeks ago, however, a national survey by the Pew Research Center and USA Today found that 50% disapproved to only 37% who approved, virtually the same as the month before.
- But having found what it was looking for, the Post/ABC News survey ran into this unwelcomed news: “A 58 percent majority say the new law [ObamaCare] is causing higher costs overall, and 47 percent say it will make the health-care system worse. While a majority say the quality of the health care they receive will remain the same, a plurality expect it to result in higher personal costs for that care.” And to be clear, only 8% think their costs have gone down.
- A huge part of the narrative that things had finally started moving in the right direction–that the debate was “over” over ObamaCare—was because a certain number of people had (we were told) signed up. But the Post/ABC News survey found that barely 3 in 8 (37%) approve of the President’s handling of the implementation of ObamaCare.
- On the all-important question of whether people think the country is headed in the right direction, “Americans express continued discontent about the country’s direction, with two-thirds saying things are on the wrong track,” Balz and Craighill write. This is hardly surprising, especially given that “Just 42 percent approve of his handling of the economy.”
And then there is this. “Another measure of voting intentions came when people were asked whether they thought it was more important to have Democrats in charge in Congress to help support Obama’s policies or Republicans in charge to act as a check on the president’s policies. On this, 53 percent of voters say Republicans and 39 percent say Democrats. That is almost identical to the results of the same question when it was asked in September 2010, two months before the GOP landslide.”
- Switching over to a preview of a National Journal poll that appeared yesterday written by Ron Brownstein, we learn that Obama’s approval is at 41% in that survey as well. An abysmal 27% said the country was on the right track.
- One other all-important number coming out of the National Journal poll: intensity. Barely one in five–21%–strongly approve of the President’s performance. But nearly four in ten–39%–strongly disapprove, almost twice as many.
The President (and certain Democratic strategists) insist that vulnerable Democrats are better off running in support of ObamaCare. If they actually believe that—which is highly unlikely—and Democrats take their advice, they will rue the day.