Donald Lambro

WASHINGTON - It's doubtful you will hear this on the network news tonight, but President Obama and his party are in deep, political trouble. And it's getting worse.

Obama's job disapproval polls climbed into the mid-50 percent range in the past week. Nearly 60 percent of the voters now say they worry "a great deal" about the weak economy, federal spending and record deficits, according to the Gallup Poll.

An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll this Wednesday shows that 65 percent of voters believe America is on the "wrong track." That's almost nine straight months that this political measurement has been over 60 percent.

Democrats lost a special House election in Florida on Tuesday in a district Obama carried twice in his 2008-2012 presidential races. Republicans focused almost entirely on voter disapproval of Obamacare in that contest, a strategy that will be replicated by Republicans in elections around the county this fall.

"Democrats haven't had a week his bad since 2010," said veteran election forecaster Charlie Cook.

Other polls show growing discontent, across party lines, with Obama's dysfunctional job performance and with the Democrats in general. And Obama's warning his party that they may face another "shellacking" by Republicans in the November midterm elections, like the one they got in 2010 when Democrats lost majority control of the House.

Only this time, the Democratic-run Senate is now up for grabs, raising the prospect of a Republican-run Congress in the last two years of Obama's second term.

"In the midterms, Democrats too often don't vote. Too often, when there's not a presidential election, we don't think it's sexy, we don't think it's interesting," Obama told complacent Democrats this week at a fundraiser in New York City.

"People tune out. And because the electorate has changed, we get walloped. It's happened before, and it could happen again," he said.

Forget all those politically slanted news stories you've read in the liberal media about how the GOP brand has become deeply unpopular. A Washington Post-ABC News poll last week found that "Half of voters in states with Senate races are supporting Republicans in the November elections, vs. 42 percent for Democrats," the newspaper reported Wednesday.

"Democrats face a daunting electoral landscape, with almost no chance of winning the House and a high risk of losing the Senate," the Post said.

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.