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Is Libya Battering Obama's Approval Rating?

In the last post, I mentioned some ominous-to-awful polling numbers for President Obama in New Hampshire. But the president's polling numbers nationally are slipping pretty fast. First, Quinnipiac:

American voters disapprove 48 – 42 percent of the job President Barack Obama is doing and say 50 – 41 percent he does not deserve to be re-elected in 2012, both all-time lows, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

This compares to a 46 – 46 percent job approval rating and a 45 – 47 percent split on the President's re-election in a March 3 survey by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University. In a hypothetical 2012 matchup, President Obama gets 36 percent of the vote to 37 percent for an unnamed Republican challenger. Democrats approve 80 – 13 percent of the job Obama is doing, but disapproval is 81 – 9 percent among Republicans and 50 – 39 percent among independent voters. Men disapprove 52 – 41 percent while women split 44 – 44 percent.

A big driver of Obama's recent slide appears to be his decision in Libya; only 41 percent support the action and 47 percent oppose it. Then, Gallup:

Americans have grown increasingly less likely to view President Obama as a strong and decisive leader since he took office. Roughly half now believe this aptly describes, him compared with 60% a year ago and 73% in April 2009…

Altogether, Obama's ratings on being a strong and decisive leader are down a total of 21 percentage points since taking office, compared with a 15-point decline on understanding Americans' daily problems and a 9-point decline in sharing their values. Obama's overall job approval rating declined 16 points over the same time period.

The March 25-27 poll also asked Americans to rate Obama on two other dimensions not yet tested since he took office. Sixty-one percent believe Obama is honest and trustworthy, while 36% say he has a clear plan for solving the country's problems — marking the high and low scores of the five characteristics tested in the poll.

Obama's post-midterm bump was quite striking because it came as so many national problems continued unabated: high unemployment, a lousy housing market, high gas prices, violence on our southern border, budget crises in most states and many localities, etc. Like Jonah, I marveled at the disconnect.

But another surprise of recent history is that so much of the presidential campaign in 2007 and 2008 focused on the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, an issue that faded as the surge worked and that has been distinctly second or third-tier since Obama took office. Despite the fact that the plan for a drawdown was set up by the Status of Forces Agreement in 2008, many of our troops that were stationed in Iraq are departing on Obama's watch, and I suspect a certain number of voters credited him for keeping his word and keeping America away from messes in the Middle East. In short, I suspect some Obama approvers concluded, "well, at least he fixed that."

And then the U.S. began enforcing the no-fly zone over Libya, putting troops in harm's way in a fight between a dictator Americans know is bad and an insurgency whose trustworthiness is unproven. It will be a great irony if Obama's reelection chances are significantly harmed by the public's Iraq War fatigue.

Jim Geraghty

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Is Libya Battering Obama's Approval Rating?

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