Is President Obama’s long honeymoon finally coming to an end? It’s a question I’ve been hesitant to ask so far in his presidency, and I only do so now with caution. It’s important to keep in mind that approval ratings fluctuate week to week and Obama still remains generally popular. That said, we now have a flurry of recent data suggesting that his support is starting to wane.
Yesterday, I noted a Quinnipiac poll in the political bellwether state of Ohio showing Obama’s approval rating dropping to 49 percent, and today Rasmussen finds that he received his lowest rating ever in the firm’s “Presidential Approval Index.” While Rasmussen has been criticized by some for releasing polls that tend to skew Republican, Obama’s approval rating has dropped to 56 percent in the latest Gallup daily tracking poll, also a new low. At the same time, his Gallup disapproval rating has climbed to 36 percent, its highest ever. While, taken individually, each of these polling results could be seen as a blip, taken together, they indicate public perception of Obama is slipping — something that can be seen in the Gallup chart below.
It’s quite possible that what we’re seeing now is just a hiccup, and that Obama will bounce back in a week or so, just as he did on many occasions during the campaign when it seemed his appeal was fading. However, it should be noted that the recent downtick in his approval ratings has coincided with the release of unemployment data and amid criticism that his economic stimulus bill is not working. And given that even the White House now expects unemployment to keep creeping up into the double-digits, it likely means that we can anticipate serveral more months of bad job reports, each one putting pressure on Obama. It’s important to remember that the next few months will be cruical for the health care fight, and the best thing Democrats have going for them on that front is that Obama remains popular. If he begins to lose credibility, people will become more skeptical when he claims that health care legislation will save money, not add to the debt, not lead to tax increase, not mean a government takeover, not mean that people lose their current insurance, etc.