On the Economy, Obama Has Lost His Polling Advantage over the GOP

Nate Silver at the NY Times looks at the trend in recent polling and finds that President Obama no longer holds an advantage over the GOP on handling the economy.

Shortly after his re-election, the President had an 18 point polling advantage on the question of who Americans trust most to lead the economy. That advantage has shrunk to as little as 3 points in a recent Fox News poll.

Also gone in recent polling is the President’s advantage on the question of who deserves blame for a politically tinged economic crisis like a government shutdown. Silver notes that Obama had a wide advantage during the post-election fiscal cliff fight, but that is no longer the case.

The drop in head-to-head polling follows a more general drop in approval of the President’s handling of the economy. In December the President was +2 (approval over disapproval) on this question. Recent polls have him down as much as -16 (the most recent ABC poll is -8).

Silver notes that the decline seems to be political rather than economic and speculates about what might be causing it. One possibility is that the post-election honeymoon gave the President a boost which is now winding down. The other possibility is that the false claims his administration made about sequestration hurt his credibility.

There is some evidence for the latter in the numbers. Obama’s lowest polling seems to have hit in the middle of last month, right about the time his sequestration hysteria was gearing up. Based on the chart Silver published, the President’s polling seems to be improving slightly since then.

Perhaps its possible to combine the two explanations into one. The President had a honeymoon after the election but his handling of sequestration popped the bubble of enthusiasm and brought his numbers back down to earth.

Addendum: John Boehner is touting Silver’s column on Twitter: