As President Obama nears the end of his Presidential term, an Economist/YouGov poll finds voters disapprove of his handling of nearly every issue.
Whether the economy, health care, environment or a host of issues, more voters disapprove of how Obama is handling issues than approve. The breadth of issues where President Obama is upside down with voters is unprecedented.
Overall, voters like President Obama as a person. Only 30 percent of voters dislike him, while 58 percent like him, at least somewhat. Obama’s popularity, however, begins dropping as soon as the discussion turns to anything more specific than his human qualities.
Only 48 percent of voters believe President Obama is a strong leader. A majority, 52 percent, view him as weak. Just 41 percent of voters think Obama believes what he says. Almost half of voters think Obama says what he thinks people want to hear.
It is unsurprising, then, that only 45 percent of voters approve of his job performance as President, while 48 percent disapprove. His approval numbers break down among demographic groups as one would expect: young, liberal and minority voters are more likely to approve of his job performance.
To a degree, a great deal of this apparent disconnect is normal. Voters often separate the person holding the Presidency from the person’s performance on the job. Presidents are usually more popular personally than they are as the chief employee of the country. Voter opposition to his positions on specific issues, though, is much more comprehensive with President Obama than recent Presidents.
The Economist/YouGov survey interviewed 2,000 voters for their opinions about Obama’s handling of 15 major policy issues. Only on the issue of “Gay Rights” did more voters of approve of Obama’s performance than disapprove. On that issue, 43 percent of voters approved and 34 percent disapproved of his handling of the issue.
Unfortunately for Obama, “Gay Rights” was also the least important issue for voters. Just 21 percent of voters said it was a “very important” issue, while 32 percent said it was “unimportant.” By way of comparison, 74 percent of voters said the economy was very important and just 1 percent said it was unimportant.
The issues where voters disapprove of President Obama’s job performance are: Abortion, the War in Afghanistan, the budget deficit, the economy, education, the environment, foreign policy, gun control, health care, immigration, Medicare, Social Security, taxes and terrorism.
Again, on each of the above issues more voters oppose President Obama or his approach than support him. The particular reasons for opposition to Obama on one of the specific issues isn’t clear. Some of the disapproval could be from liberals, upset that Obama has more aggressively pursued a particular policy. Obviously, a large part of the opposition will be from conservatives or independents who disagree with his specific policy proposals on an issue.
Regardless of the reasons, President Obama doesn’t have the support of even a plurality of voters on any major issue. Political pundits are no doubt underestimating the drag President Obama will have on Democrats on the ballot next year.
The Obama Presidency has been a disaster for any Democrat unfortunate enough to stand for election when Obama himself isn’t on the ballot. Voters still like Obama as a person, which goes a long way to explain his political success.
On his leadership, his job performance and his approach on specific issues, however, the political situation is completely different. Democrat candidates who confuse his personal popularity with his stands on issues could have a very bad election night next year.
As the Democrat standard-bearer, Hillary Clinton, who does not enjoy the same personal approval ratings as President Obama, has a much more difficult path to the White House than most pundits will admit.