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Obama’s Second-Term Blues

According to the most recent CNN poll, President Obama’s approval rating dropped eight points over the past month (it’s down to 45 percent, his lowest in more than a year and a half). The main erosion occurred among people under 30 years of age (-17 points) and independents (-10). Mr. Obama’s approval-disapproval rating among independents is now 37/61.

Fifty-seven percent of those surveyed say they disagree with the president’s views on the size and power of the federal government. Fifty-three percent say Mr. Obama cannot manage the government effectively. And for the first time in his presidency, half of the public says they don’t believe Mr. Obama is honest and trustworthy. (The number of Americans who think he is honest has dropped nine points over the past month, to 49 percent.)

None of these findings is surprising; they are the result of the various scandals and controversies engulfing the administration and a second-term agenda that was dead in the water after 100 days.

The president is hardly in free-fall. But he is in an unusually weak position as he is about to enter the first summer of his second term. It’s not at all clear what large goals and achievements he’s hoping to accomplish. There is, at least for now, a feeling of drift and entropy, with the president and his administration on defense. And next year there’s a mid-term election which historically punishes the president’s party.

The multiple failures of Mr. Obama’s first term are exerting a drag on his second term. This doesn’t mean the president can’t recover. It only means it won’t be easy.


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