The new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll came out yesterday and it offers brutal news for President Obama and Democrats. It is worth looking at it in some depth.
Overall, Obama’s job approval is unchanged, which might be called good news for the president, except that it remains at a low in this poll for the administration. Forty percent approve versus 54 percent who disapprove. This puts the poll toward the low end of the approval scale, but the NBC/WSJ poll is of registered voters, which probably makes it mildly less disposed to the president.
Obama’s approval numbers on the economy are statistically unchanged from last month, although there is an improvement since December, when it was 39-58. Today it is 43-53. This number is interesting to me because people have been talking up the growing economy, but it does not seem to be translating into politics. I’d note with interest that Gallup’s measure of economic confidence has been flat for six months. The economy has been growing at a pretty consistent 2 percent since it emerged from the recession in the spring of 2009. That rate appears not to be enough to provide a political boost to the president.
The president is taking a pummeling in foreign affairs. Six months ago his approval rating was 41/53. Now it is 32/62. That tells me he has lost not only Republicans and independents, but also maybe a quarter of Democrats. NBC/WSJ does not break the approval numbers down by party identification, but my guess is that Democrats approve of the president much more strongly on the economy than foreign policy. Hence, the decline. Independent swing voters, who determine the outcome of every election, probably disapprove on both fronts. The ABC News/Washington Post poll found basically something similar. Obama’s job approval on the economy was better than international affairs, mostly because Democrats are with him more on the economy.
Obama’s favorable rating is also near record lows. Just 42 percent of registered voters have a favorable view of him, compared to 46 percent with an unfavorable view. Last month, it was 40/47, but a year ago it was 45/42. NBC/WSJ’s pre-election poll in 2012 had it at 49/43. It has often been said that Obama’s greatest asset is that people like him in general. That is not really the case anymore. His net favorable rating has been negative in NBC/WSJ since last October.
Following up on my post from yesterday, the Republican party’s favorable rating is an anemic 31 percent, compared to a unfavorable rating of 41 percent. That is better than other polls have it, perhaps because NBC/WSJ offers a “neutral” option, which clocks in at 26 percent. Democratic favorability is 36/42, just slightly better.
Regarding the midterms, registered voters prefer a Republican Congress over a Democratic one, 45-43. That is basically unchanged from a month ago. And it is the essentially the same as NBC/WSJ found in September 2010 when the public was evenly split. At this point in 2012, registered voters preferred Democrats, 47-43. At this point in 2008 they wanted Democrats in control of Congress, 50-37. At this point in 2006, it was 52-37 in favor of Democrats.