Poll: Obama’s Approval Rating Hits “Lowest Level in More Than a Year”

Daniel Doherty

3/12/2013 10:50:00 AM - Daniel Doherty

Now that the 2012 election over -- and therefore Team Obama doesn’t have an evil, “corporate raider” to blame for all of America’s woes -- the president’s approval rating has taken a decided hit, returning to levels we haven’t seen since November 2011:

If President Barack Obama had piled up political capital with his impressive re-election, it’s largely gone.

His approval rating has dropped to the lowest level in more than a year, with more voters now turning thumbs down on his performance than thumbs up, according to a new McClatchy-Marist poll. The measure of how much people like him also has dropped.

He’s still vastly more popular than Congress, particularly congressional Republicans. But in the biggest political clash of the year – over the federal budget and how to curb deficits – voters split 44 percent to 42 percent between preferring Congress or Obama.

At least some of the president’s fall to Earth lies in the fact that voters no longer see him in the context of an election. He has to stand alone in the eyes of voters again and doesn’t benefit from the comparison with Republican rival Mitt Romney.

“You remove the electoral context and post-election celebration, and some of the numbers are returning to the dissatisfaction people had,” said Lee Miringoff, the director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion at Marist College in New York, which conducted the poll.

“Any glow from his re-election is starting to fade,” he said.

But it’s not just President Obama’s favorability rating that is plummeting, either. In fact, his personal popularity numbers are nearly underwater -- and the lowest they’ve been in sixteen months:

Obama’s personal popularity also has declined, with 48 percent of voters having favorable impressions of him and 48 percent having unfavorable impressions. That was down from 53-44 in December. It also was the lowest since November 2011, when it was 47-49.

Another factor in the president’s decline is anxiety about the economy and the country.

Just 34 percent of voters think the country’s heading in the right direction, while 62 percent think it’s headed the wrong way. That’s also the worst since November 2011.

Question: Could President Obama’s endless scaremongering have anything to do with why the public is slowly but surely turning again him? Or are his numbers falling simply because he doesn’t have a hapless scapegoat to blame for our wretched economy? Maybe it’s a combination of the two. However, it’s worth mentioning that the national unemployment rate (setting aside the fact that millions of Americans have dropped out of the labor market) fell to 7.7 percent last month, the lowest it’s been since The One took office. And yet 62 percent surveyed in the McClatchy-Marist poll say (a) we’re still in a recession and (b) the country is headed in the wrong direction. Go figure. In any case, the point is that the president cannot convincingly blame George W. Bush anymore for our perennially stagnant economy, and I think finally we’re starting to see that reflected in our public opinion polls.