President Barack Obama received one belated birthday present he would liked to do without new approval rating lows in the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released Tuesday morning, August 6, 2014. The only news in the poll that might comfort the president is that Congress is also experiencing record lows in the poll as well. In general America's disapprove of the government altogether so it is not necessarily personally against Obama. As NBC News put it "Two words sum up the mood of the nation: Fed up" and declaring Obama's "Approval Rating Hits All-Time Low."
After a small rebound in the polls after the disastrous rollout of his healthcare law the Affordable Care Act in October President Obama is seeing new record poll lows. According the NBC/WSJ poll the president now only has a 40 percent approval rating. The number is not the worst he received in any poll, but the poorest showing in the NBC/WSJ's polling. Congress is not faring better with a record low 14 percent approval rating.
The poll was conducted by bipartisan duo, Democrat Peter Hart and Republican Bill McInturff. Hart commented that "We're in the summer of our discontent. Americans are cranky, unhappy… It is with everything going on the world." The two main problems American have is still the economy and the "country's politicians."
Although President Obama claimed a victory with the July Jobs report indicating job creation, economic growth and recovery a huge number of Americans are not feeling the supposed improvements. The Great Recession had a huge impact on a majority Americans with 71 percent telling the poll it "personally impacted them 'a lot' or 'just some.'" A majority at 64 percent "say it's still having an effect on them" among them includes 3.2 million Americans that have jobless for longer than 26 weeks. Still for the first time less than 50 percent of Americans believe the economy is still in a recession, with 49 percent, and now a small majority at 50 percent think "the economy is improving."
The anger is also deep towards America's politicians in general especially with their handling of the economy. An overwhelming majority at 79 percent are "dissatisfied" with the "political system" with nearly 40 percent "very dissatisfied." While percent of the poll respondents say the economy has not improved enough because of "elected officials" and Congress are not doing enough.
In that, the poll is echoing what President Obama stated in his press conference on Friday, Aug. 1, 2014 where he pointed out; "Unfortunately, there are a series of steps that we could be taking to maintain momentum, and perhaps even accelerate it; there are steps that we could be taking that would result in more job growth, higher wages, higher incomes, more relief for middle-class families. And so far, at least, in Congress, we have not seen them willing or able to take those steps."
Ultimately, Americans are blaming President Obama, and his job approval rating fell from 41 percent in June to 40 percent. The number is only slightly improved when looking at Obama's handling of the economy, with a 42 percent approval rating. American's disapprove of the president handling of foreign policy the most with a low 36 percent approval rating. Americans do not personally like Obama that much either; with a low 40 percent favorable rating and a higher 47 percent unfavorable rating.
In the past month, President Obama has seen a string of bad poll results. A recent Associated Press-GfK poll released on Friday, Aug. 1, 2014 showed similar results with 40 percent approving of Obama's "overall" job performance, and 43 percent approving on his job with foreign policy also a record low for the president. According Gallup's daily approval rating tracking President Obama hit a record low for the three day period from July 22 to July 24 when President Obama's approval rating was 39 percent and he had a disapproval rating high of 54 percent.
Even worst according to a Quinnipiac University poll released on July 2, 2014 determined "President Barack Obama is the worst president since World War II, 33 percent of American voters say." An opinion editorial by Matt K Lewis written for the UK Telegraph seems to put a reason behind the low polls, just as the article's title said; "Barack Obama has already checked out of his job The degree to which Barack Obama is now phoning it in - sleepwalking perfunctorily through his second term, amid golf rounds and dinner parties - is astonishing. Lewis believes President Obama has emotionally checked out of his job a couple of years early"… and "seems to be prematurely packing his bags in hopes for an early departure."
A little bit of good news was Gallup Poll's calculation of President Obama's average approval rating for his 22nd quarter year in office was slightly up to a 43.2 percent from his all-time low 42.4 percent. Still this improved numbers occurred before the rash of record low approval ratings popping up in July and as Gallup indicated began in mid-June.
Considering that the House Republicans voted 225 to 201 in pre-recess vote on Wednesday, July 30 to sue the president over the health care law's the Affordable Care Act otherwise known as Obamacare's delayed employer mandate. And with all the talk about possible impeachment over the president's ever growing list of executive actions taken in domestic policy since the start of the year Americans do not want to impeach Obama. According CNN/ORC International poll released Friday, July 25, 2014 only 33 percent believe that President Obama should be impeached with 65 percent against it.
Congress' approval rating is at an all-time low as well with a mere 14 percent approval rating. American also think less of Republicans than Democrats with Republicans having a 19 percent favorable rating with a 54 percent unfavorable rating, while Democrats have a 31 percent favorable rating and only a 46 percent unfavorable rating. That does not mean however, that Americans prefer Democrats in control of Congress. Republicans have a slight edge with 44 percent of American preferring that they control Congress versus 43 percent for the Democrats.
President Obama's low approval rating certainly does not help the Democrats in the midterm elections. The Democrats are on the edge where they might lose six seats and their control on the Senate. They already realize regaining control of the House of Representatives is virtually impossible at this point. Presidents often see their parties lose seats in the second midterm elections of their terms, and Obama and Democrats are trying to curb that precedent. Ironically considering that Americans blame President Obama so much for the economic problems that still remain, Obama and the Democrats have made the economy and economic opportunity their main election focus.
All of President Obama's attacks on the Republicans are not helping, they are still favored to win the Senate. The Washington Post ran an article on Wednesday, August 6, 2014 entitled "Is the race for control of the Senate over already?" The article written by Dan Balz states "The midterm contest is almost over and the Republicans are winning. That, at least, is the impression left by some modelers and other analysts." The author concludes that the Republicans are "in an enviable but not yet commanding position." President Obama should pay close attention to the poll numbers and listen to the American public and instead of attacking the Republicans do his job it will help more than all his rhetorical attacks.
- NBC News Wall Street Journal Poll (PDF), Aug. 6, 2014
Bonnie K. Goodman is the Editor of the Academic Buzz Network, a series of political, academic & education blogs which includes History Musings: History, News & Politics. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies, both from McGill University, and has done graduate work in Jewish history at Concordia University as part of the MA in Judaic Studies program. She covers US, Canadian & Israeli politics, with a particular focus on the Obama presidency, Congress, domestic policy, and elections.