A new NPR poll delivers some interesting tidbits. Obama’s approval ratings are down to 53 percent, and Republicans lead by one point in the generic congressional polls. Forty-eight percent of voters agree with this statement: “President Obama’s economic policies have run up a record federal deficit while failing to end the recession or slow the record pace of job losses,” while only 45 percent agree with this: “President Obama’s economic policies helped avert an even worse crisis, and are laying the foundation for our eventual economic recovery.” Thirty-nine percent strongly oppose his health-care plan; 25 percent strongly favor it. Overall, voters oppose ObamaCare by a 47-42 percent margin.
The White House team, of course, thinks the president is the administration’s most effective weapon. But right now, on who should control Congress, on the stimulus plan, and on the health-care plan, the public sides with Republicans — that hapless, supposedly brand-damaged group that couldn’t shoot straight. Simply by saying no and pointing to some powerful economic evidence and to their opponents’ overreach, Republicans are making the case against Obamaism.
The cumulative evidence suggests that Obama — despite a cushy media environment, a congressional majority to amplify his message, and a reservoir of goodwill from voters — is faltering. It is a mistake to conclude that this is not repairable or that he has “lost” the public. After all, 53 percent of the public still approve of his job performance. But only the most obsessive Obama-spinners can deny that he and his key initiatives are increasingly being met with skepticism. He can rail at the “24-hour news cycle” or he can adjust his policies and his message. The former comes easily to a team convinced of their own virtue and political skills; the latter requires some self-awareness, humility, and willingness to depart from rigid ideology. Which will he choose? I have my suspicions, but let’s see how savvy the Obama team is when confronted with growing resistance to their ultraliberal agenda.