For an administration that has reportedly made poll testing a center piece of administration policy one hopes key individuals in the administration are asking themselves; “what went wrong?” For the rest of us the question is; “does the President even care?” So far, there is no indication that he does, in the face of a variety of crisis the response seems, most often to be, fundraising and golf. Golf may be a good way to clear the mind but the optics are disturbing and may be more than optics. It may be the inherent arrogance and narcissism the President has often been accused of with that chorus finding more Democrats joining by the day.
The latest WSJ/NBC poll is bad news for the President; even NBC seems to have been forced into that position. The right track/wrong track numbers are holding steady at two to one, wrong track. On job performance and the economy the numbers hover in the 41% approval zone. On foreign policy the President is at 37% approval, his lowest rating in nearly two years in this poll. We have traveled far from the point of his re-election where his ratings on foreign policy were his only number over 50%.
A further indication of widespread erosion was the question that asked respondents to react to names of public figures and groups. In January of 2009 43% has a very “positive response” to Obama, today that number is 20%. In that same time frame Obama went from a 6% “very negative” response to 31%, that is a change of over 400% to the negative.
On the “government should do more or is doing too much” question the “do more” numbers have hovered around 50%, now 50% say “too much” turning against a fundamental underpinning of Administration philosophy.
Of concern is that there is very little movement related to how interested the respondents are in the upcoming November elections. Polls are often schizophrenic. Despite consistent rejection of Obama policies, the respondents preferred a Democratically controlled Congress over Republican control by 2 points with 12 undecided. The poll also shows that the traditional re-election of Congressional incumbents may be facing a sea change. A year ago the poll indicated that 57% would like to see “someone else given a chance” that number receded, peaked at a high of 63% in October of 2013 returning to 57%.
41% say that over the past year the performance of the Obama administration has “gotten worse”, 15% say “gotten better”. Obama is losing the electorate over both policy and competence. On an issue by issue compilation, when respondents among the 15% were asked to rate areas of improvement the highest issue specific number was 5%. On the other side of the coin 12% was the high water mark amongst the 41%. Even supporters who feel that administration performance has improved are tepid in their enthusiasm or hard pressed to put a finger on the actuality of the improvement.
A factor in the apparent lack of enthusiasm relates to the economy where only 27% feel the economy will get better in the upcoming year, 48% say it will stay about the same, 24% saying it will worsen.
There is, in the interest, of fairness polling that also supports the President’s position on issues related to immigration, EPA regulations and climate change. The hard core on climate change is however only 30% with a nearly equal number saying “some” action should be taken. One wonders what the response would be if there were a dollar figure or an economic impact number included in the question or that it were phrased in the context that neither India or China, the worst polluters, would change their policies and would benefit from further restrictions on American business?
The departure from Afghanistan shows major support for the President’s position, with 65% saying the war was “not worth it”, however 59% oppose the closing of Gitmo.
The original question demands reprise; “does the President care”?