Obama's mildly troubling poll position
What's that? You want to hear more about the latest New York Times/CBS News poll. Okay, great! And who better to focus on than President Obama. For the White House, there's good news and then there's some news that should make the West Wing nervous.
Let's start with right track-wrong track. There's been a little improvement in some really bad numbers. While there was a 1-point uptick (from 33 percent to 34 percent) in those who say the country is going in the "right direction," there was a 3-point reduction (from 62 percent to 59 percent) in the number who say the country is on the "wrong track" between February and now. Nice trend, if it continues.
It won't come as a shock that Tea Partiers have negative view of the president. They disapprove of his job performance by 88 percent. Among all adults surveyed, however, Obama's job approval rating sits at 50 percent. That's a 4-point climb since February. Given the beating he's taken on the economy and the contentious health-care debate, that's impressive. But there a few areas where Obama's standing has taken a beating, and the poll results should serve as a warning to the president and his advisers.
On the eve of his inauguration in Jan. 2009, Obama was viewed favorably by 60 percent of Americans. Just 9 percent said their opinion of him was "not favorable." Today, his favorable rating is down 17 points to 43 percent. The unfavorable rating is up, way up, by 24 points to 33 percent of Americans. Silver lining: since February, Obama's favorable rating is up 4 points and his unfavorable is down 1 point.
While the percentage of people who don't think Obama understands the needs of people like them has gone up between Sept. 2008 and today (33 percent to 39 percent,) the number who say he does has held relatively constant over the same period (60 percent to 58 percent).
But there's a warning in the overall numbers. The positive view of Obama on the "I feel your pain" question is trending downward. His current standing (58 percent) is the result of a steady 10-point drop from its 68-percent high in mid-Oct. 2008. And the negative view is in an upward trend. Since mid-Oct. 2008, the number of adults who don't think Obama understands their needs and problems has risen from 28 percent to 39 percent. That's an 11-point spike.
Another negative trend: the percentage of people who think Obama does not share their values is going up while those who hold the opposite view is going down. The good news is that 57 percent of Americans still believe he shares their values. But that's a 9-point drop since a high of 66 percent in Oct. 2008. Meanwhile, the 37 percent who say Obama doesn't share their values is the highest ever. Ten points higher than Oct. 2008 and 25 points higher than July 2007. There's plenty of time for the president to turn all of these downward trends around in time for his reelection effort in 2012. The question is whether the negative view of Obama will have an impact on congressional Democrats in November's midterm elections.
Finally, I have to highlight results in three areas that have me scratching my head, rolling my eyes or both. A majority of the nation (52 percent) thinks Obama's policies are moving the country toward socialism, as does an overwhelming majority of Tea Partiers (92 percent). Most Americans (58 percent) believe Obama is a "natural born citizen" of the United States, as do 41 percent of Tea Party types. But a total 59 percent of Tea Party-types don't when you combine those who "don't know" (29 percent) and those who say flat out that he was born in another country (30 percent). And most Americans (83 percent) and most Tea Partiers believe Obama treats whites and blacks the same. But a stubborn 25 percent of Tea Partiers said that Obama, the nation's first African American president, favors blacks over whites. Clearly, they're not paying attention to Tavis Smiley. He would disagree -- and loudly.
| April 16, 2010; 7:31 AM ET
Categories: Capehart | Tags: Jonathan Capehart
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