WASHINGTON -- President Obama and the Democrats woke up Tuesday morning to the stunning headline that his approval ratings have plunged to the lowest point in his presidency.
Even worse, polls showed he was losing support among his party's political base, which has become increasingly disenchanted and divided over his trouble-plagued health insurance law, not to mention his terrible performance in an anemic economy.
In the past month, Obama's job-disapproval score has shot up to 63 percent among independents and up to 50 percent among self-described moderates, two of the key swing voter blocs that helped him win a second term.
Opposition to his health care law has soared to a record high of 57 percent, with 46 percent saying they're "strongly against it," according to The Washington Post's latest poll.
But his failing grades from voters run even deeper than this: 63 percent disapprove of his handling of the bungled, widely unpopular health care program, up from 53 percent last month.
At the same time, a growing number of Americans see him as an incompetent chief executive who's out of touch with his administration and the policies he has championed.
"For the first time in Obama's presidency, a bare majority of Americans, 52 percent, say they have an unfavorable impression of him," the Post reported.
"Half or more now say he is not a strong leader, does not understand the problems of 'people like you,' and is not honest and trustworthy," the survey found.
These sharply declining numbers are not just the result of the collapse of Obamacare in the last several weeks. They have been on a downward slide all year.
Among registered voters, perceptions of Obama as a strong leader have fallen 15 points since January and 12 points on questions of honesty and trustworthiness.
His overall approval score has dropped to 42 percent, down six points in a month, with his disapproval rating at 55 percent. Other polls, like Gallup, showed his approval rating falling to near 40 percent. A Quinnipiac University survey, among others, has it slipping into the 30s.
The bleak political reality that was slowly dawning on his top White House advisers is that Obama's numbers are not going to be turned around anytime soon by a quick fix of Obamacare. That's not going to happen.
Administration insiders tell reporters that the software's obstacle-plagued online application program will not be fixed by the latest deadline at the end of this month. Early applications were embarrassingly minuscule (106,000), when tens of millions of beneficiaries, including younger, healthy people, are needed to make the government-run program financially viable.
Worsening the White House's troubles was Obama's flip-flop to let individuals buy insurance policies without the costly new benefits the law prescribes. Most of the states' regulators rebelled, saying they were not sure their state laws would allow them to do that.
"Honestly, it's just a big mess right now. ... I don't know what to tell people," said Kansas insurance commissioner Sandy Praeger.
Meantime, the president's party was coming apart at the seams on Capitol Hill, as vulnerable Democrats who voted for Obamacare and are up for re-election next year fear a massive political backlash against them from angry voters.
House Republicans seized on their opportunity last week to bring up a bill that would allow Americans to keep their canceled insurance policies. Senior White House advisers hastily called closed-door meetings with Democrats, pleading with them to stand firm behind Obamacare.
When the roll was called, 39 skittish House Democrats abandoned Obama and voted for the GOP-sponsored bill, which went much further than the president's temporary, one-year reprieve.
The GOP measure would allow Americans to keep the health insurance policies they had purchased for as long as they wanted. The White House said Obama would veto it if it reached his desk.
Looking a bit deeper into that vote, there was this "run for cover" sign of how politically lethal the Obamacare law has become in Congress. Among the 26 members of the Democratic Congressional Committee's "Frontline" incumbent-protection group, 23 voted for the GOP bill to water down Obamacare.
"Republicans hope the remarkable show of Democratic disunity in the vote is a sign of things to come," writes Post political blogger Chris Cillizza.
Indeed, besides polling evidence that Americans are turning sharply against Obamacare, there were broader signs that a majority was opposed to any intrusion by the federal government into the nation's privately run health care system.
Gallup released polling figures Monday that showed 56 percent of Americans surveyed did not believe it was the government's responsibility to make sure all of our citizens had health care coverage.
This is a stunning reversal in the mood of the country as more Americans have begun experiencing the sudden loss of their economic freedoms and the job-killing disruptions under Obamacare's punishing mandates.
Prior to 2009, "a clear majority consistently said the government should take responsibility for ensuring all Americans have health care," Gallup said. That no longer seems to be the case.
Throughout the year, the news media have been gleefully telling us that the Republicans were going to suffer huge political losses in the 2014 elections for the brief, partial government shutdown and their persistent opposition to Obamacare and other administration policies.
But they're not pushing that partisan line anymore on the nightly news. It's the Democrats who are now threatened by widespread losses in Congress for trying to shove Obamacare down our throats.
And it's Obama who is poised to go down in flames as one of the most incompetent presidents in our history.
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