Two recent polls spell trouble for President Obama. A Washington Post-ABC News poll, whose sample was skewed toward Democrats by a ridiculous 10-point margin (32 v. 22 percent, with Independents at 41 percent), showed the president’s approval rating to a near record low, with 47 percent approving the job he’s doing, down 7 points since January. Fully half of Americans disapprove of his job performance, with 37 percent saying they “strongly disapprove,” nearly matching the worst level of his presidency. Among independents, 55 percent disapprove of the job Obama is doing.
Almost six in 10 Americans (57 percent) disapprove of the job the president is doing dealing with the economy, tying the highest negative rating of his presidency. Forty-four percent believe the economy is getting worse while only 28 percent say it’s getting better. And for Obama, here’s the most ominous finding of all: 45 percent say they definitely will not vote for him for re-election while only 28 percent say they definitely will.
In a McClatchy-Marist poll, which gave Democrats an 8-point sampling advantage, 44 percent of registered voters approve of how the president is doing in office compared with 49 percent who disapprove. Sixty-one percent of registered voters disapprove of how the president is handling the federal budget deficit while only 34 percent approve. Among independent voters, more than two-thirds — 68 percent — are unhappy with Obama on the deficit. And by a margin of 64 percent v. 31 percent, Americans think the nation is moving in the wrong direction, the largest since November 2007.
The polling data from these surveys and others paint a picture of a nation that is deeply uneasy, pessimistic about the future, and increasingly unhappy with the performance of the president. It’s true enough that the 2012 election is a long way away. The pendulum will swing back and forth many times between now and then. Still, we’re now one-third of the way through Obama’s third year as president – and almost every political indicator for him is getting worse. Much more problematic for Obama, the economy remains fragile and the recovery anemic, with growing doubts about our creditworthiness and commodity inflation increasing (retail prices for a gallon of regular-grade gasoline will average $3.86 from April through September, up from $2.76 for the comparable period last year).
What this means is that Obama won’t run primarily on his record or his plans for the future; his political strategy is to assault Republicans in as agreeable a manner as possible. He’s going to run a campaign based on fear, employing an avalanche of fraudulent arguments, all the while portraying himself as reasonable and mature, the only adult in a political room full of children.
This approach is not only dishonest; it’s stale. The nation is increasingly weary of Obama. At this stage, then, the president is weak and getting weaker. The challenge for Republicans is to produce a nominee who is serious, reassuring, and accomplished. If they do, they have a great chance of winning the White House in 2012.