Historians will record the summer of 2014 as the moment the American public drew the curtains on the Obama presidency. His White House merely reacts to news and events, which seem increasingly beyond his control or influence. His personal approval ratings have hit new lows, as the public largely tunes him out. As President, though, he still holds considerable political influence. Unfortunately for Democrats, that influence is dooming their prospects in November.
A new McClatchy-Marist poll finds Republicans leading Democrats in the generic ballot by 5 points, the first GOP lead of this election cycle. In April, Democrats held a 6-point advantage over Republicans in the poll of adults. By a significant 10-point margin, voters say their opinion of Obama makes them more likely to vote for a Republican than a Democrat.
Just 39% of Americans approve of Obama’s handling of the economy. An abysmal 33% approve of his handling of foreign policy. His overall job approval is just 35% among Independents, who now break strongly for Republicans. Independents prefer Republicans over Democrats by a 14-point margin.
Obama’s net job approval ratings are now 7 points worse than they were on the eve of the Republican landslide victory in 2010. That election was largely driven by anger and frustration over a single policy, i.e. ObamaCare. The 2014 election looks to be driven by much larger factors. Two years into a presidency, there is still optimism that a president’s policies will have a positive impact on the economy and the nation. After six years, though, those hopes fade.
With just over 80 days of campaigning until November, individual campaigns will be driven by local strategies and tactics. Many individual Democrat campaigns will outperform Republicans. The “Obama drag,” though, may outweigh these developments. The Obama presidency has already created more Republican elected officials than at almost any other point in US history. November is likely to break even that auspicious record.