As we suggested in our recent column, the new Gallup/USA Today poll confirms that Barack Obama's ratings have collapsed as a result of the WikiLeaks release of Afghan War memos. Down from 46 percent in the most recent poll, Obama's job approval has plunged to 41 percent -- the lowest it has ever been in any major poll.
Democrats have now joined in the defection from Obama impelled by their increasing anger over his continued involvement in Afghanistan and the emerging double-dip in the recession. Support for his war policies there has dropped to 38 percent from 46 percent in February, while approval of his handling of the economy has plunged to 39 percent.
Elected as a peace and jobs candidate, the defections over these two issues among his base are likely to be especially injurious in the 2010 congressional elections. The generic Republican vs. Democratic ballot now shows an 8 point GOP lead, according to Rasmussen Reports.
We have recently reviewed polls for five Republican House challengers to Democratic incumbents in Iowa, North Dakota, Virginia and New York, and were shocked to see the Republicans leading in each. Normally, one would consider GOP chances excellent if the challenger were able to hold the incumbent to under 50 percent of the vote, since the undecided almost always goes entirely for the challenger. But to actually show leads at this point is incredible.
Once Democrats start abandoning Obama, there is no bottom to his ratings. Disaffection and cynicism spread easily in that party, and the left has shown signs of increasing galvanization against the war. More than 100 House Democrats voted against war funding, about 40 percent of the total Democratic membership in the House.
Adding to the party's woes is, of course, the emerging scandals involving Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y., and Maxine Waters, D-Calif. Coming just as the fall campaign kicks off, they remind one of the Mark Foley scandal that so darkened GOP chances in 2006. With the House Democrats certain not to expel either member but to slap each on the wrist, the scandal will flare into a conflagration that will further diminish Democratic chances in November.
In a presidential year, these Democratic defections would only be consequential were there a third candidate or a primary challenger to choose. But in an off-year, staying home is a viable option, particularly for the minority and young voters Obama lured to the polls for the first time in 2008. Their defection will be disastrous for Obama and will cost him control of both houses of Congress.