theodore M I R A L D I mpa ... editor, publisher, writer

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The shrinking president

by Jennifer Rubin

Yesterday I wrote that the president’s poll numbers were sinking.
The Post/ABC News poll out today reinforces that observation and shows that he is losing his edge on major policy issues:
Obama’s overall job-approval rating stands at 50 percent, down five points from before he took the oath of office in January. Looking along partisan lines, the slippage since then has been particularly pronounced among political independents. Two months ago, independents tilted clearly in his direction, with 54 percent approving and 41 percent disapproving. Now, half of independents express a negative opinion of the president’s performance; just 44 percent approve.

The president has also seen an erosion in confidence among groups that he has counted as core supporters. . . .
 Of the seven second-term presidents who have been in office since Harry S. Truman, only George W. Bush had a positive rating as low as 50 percent at this stage.
Moreover, he is statistically tied with congressional Republicans on handling the economy, guns and immigration.
Democrats will take pleasure in the low approval ratings for Congress, but keep in mind Democrats in Congress earn a 62 percent disapproval. Unlike many House incumbents who are in safe seats, the red-state Democrats up for reelection on 2014 are vulnerable, especially if the president can offer little support or actually is a net negative for these senators.
These and other polls may not be the end of the bad news for the president. How will the public react to a budget that never balances? To a president who doesn’t lead the budget process and trails both houses of Congress? To a president whose aide confesses the outreach dinner to Republicans was a “joke”? We’ll find out, I suppose.
The polls are a reminder of the pitfalls of second-term presidents. In the ego rush of reelection, this president (like others before him) over-interprets any mandate (especially given the campaign was contentless as was Obama’s), dismisses criticism, regards Congress with contempt and ignores at his peril the public’s deep concern about our economy and debt.

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