Donald Lambro

In a remarkable misreading of the uppermost concerns of the American people, Obama has been running around the country peddling higher income taxes, more spending, early childhood education, expanding federal job-training programs, and boosting payroll costs on small businesses by raising the minimum wage.

In the Democratic Senate, 28 out of touch senators held on all- night "talkathon" Monday to focus public attention on what they perceive to be one of the nation's chief issues: "climate change."

But that's far from what most Americans are worrying about. In fact, climate change is near the bottom of a list of 15 issues.

More Americans worry about the economy, record levels in government spending, big budget deficits and debt than the environment, Gallup said.

Fifty-nine percent of respondents said that they worried "a great deal" about the economy; 58 said the same thing about spending and deficits; and 57 percent worried about health care costs.

Coming in at No. 4 on the list, 48 percent said they worried about jobs and unemployment a "great deal," with another 28 percent worrying about it "a fair amount."

Gallup noted that the 31 percent who said they worried "a great deal" about the environment this year was the lowest level recorded since they "began measuring this in 2001."

The U.S. Labor Department last week said the Obama economy created only 175,000 jobs in February, after only producing 129,000 jobs in January -- dismal numbers in a potential labor force of 160 million Americans.

The White House and its apologists in the news media blame these pathetically weak job numbers on the winter weather. But Peter Morici, an economist at the University of Maryland's school of business, and a critic of Obama's economic policies, says "these mediocre results are consistent with a broadly underperforming economy."

Clearly, the sluggish economy was driving the president's and the Democrats' polling numbers down into dangerous territory. The NBC/Wall Street Journal poll said 56 percent of Americans now disapprove of the president's handling of the economy.

But widespread disapproval of Obamacare was also a major factor in the Democrats' declining popularity at the grassroots. When Americans are asked what they thought of the health care law, 35 percent said it was a good idea, but a hefty 49 percent said it was a bad idea.

All of this is eating away at the Democrats' support in the midterm elections. When pollsters asked if they prefer a Congress controlled by Democrats or by Republicans, "respondents provided data that gave the GOP a one point edge overall," Cook writes this week in his latest election analysis.

"While that may sound insignificant, this poll question, for whatever reason, has historically been skewed three to four points towards Democrat," he explains.

"These new numbers appear pretty much comparable to the two- point GOP edge in the last NBC/WSJ poll taken just before the 2010 Republican landslide victory," he said.

Close to half a dozen Democrat incumbents are in tight races, "with narrow leads over their challengers," he says.

But Cook cautions that incumbents usually "don't grow their actual vote much above their poll numbers," while undecided voters "tend to break more for challengers."

That's why, he adds, these poll numbers "should be troubling for Democrats."


Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.