Wednesday, February 9, 2011

President Obama 27% Approval On Handling Deficit, 37% On The Economy

Ed Morrissey - Remember all that talk about Barack Obama’s bounce in the polls after the lame-duck session? We can officially proclaim that duck cooked now, and the bouncing cat officially dead, or at least comatose. Gallup’s latest survey on issues and presidential approval shows Obama below a majority on every single issue — and seriously underwater in the highest priorities for voters in the last midterm election:

President Barack Obama’s approval rating for handling the federal budget deficit has gone from bad to worse in recent months, even as his ratings on all other major national issues have generally held steady. Currently, 27% of Americans approve of Obama on the deficit, down from 32% in November, while 68% disapprove.

Overall, Obama is doing much better on international issues than domestic ones. Among eight issues on which Obama was rated in the new poll, Americans give the president the highest approval ratings on foreign affairs and the situations in Egypt and Afghanistan. The deficit, the economy, and taxes rank among his lowest ratings, alongside healthcare policy.

The survey was conducted Feb. 2-5, as the Obama administration was stepping up pressure on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to make a decision about continuing to lead his country in light of mass protests calling for his immediate resignation — protests with which Americans generally sympathize. The relatively small percentage disapproving of Obama on Egypt (32%) makes his overall net approval on that issue the highest of any issue tested, at +15 percentage points.

That may be Obama’s best category, but it’s still the sound of one hand clapping. On foreign affairs, Obama gets a 48/45, which is his highest approval rating among all issues — and it comes in the middle of a crisis, when Americans usually rally around a President. By the time this survey started, Obama had received little domestic criticism over his handling of the Egyptian crisis, and indeed not much at all until the final day of the survey, when his own envoy to Mubarak contradicted Obama’s calls for Mubarak’s departure. The 48/45 on overall foreign policy and the equally weak 47/32 are not votes of confidence, but weak and shallow support at best.

Obama has equally mediocre numbers on Afghanistan (47/46) and energy policy (43/42), but falls deep underwater on politically crucial issues:

* Taxes: 42/54
* Healthcare: 40/56
* Economy: 37/60
* Budget deficit: 27/68

On taxes and the deficit, Republicans traditionally lead — although Democrats don’t usually trail on the latter by forty-one points. Healthcare and the economy are two traditional Democratic strengths, however. Obama has demolished that advantage, especially on the economy, which is the one issue most on the minds of voters. Even the deficit is secondary to the overall economic conditions.

Most problematic for Obama, independents also failed to give him a majority on any of the issues. On the deficit, a scant 19% expressed approval of his performance, 35% on health care, 32% on the economy, and 35% on taxes. Obama even loses a significant number of his own party on the deficit, with just 57% approving.

Obama had better start recalculating his economic and spending policies immediately if he plans to run for another term in office. No matter what his personal likability might be, no President wins re-election with numbers like these, and he has a very short period of time to turn the economy and deficit around to improve them.

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