NBC/WSJ Poll: Obama's Approval Stands at 44%

Daniel Doherty

4/30/2014 11:05:00 AM - Daniel Doherty

Today the NBC/WSJ pollsters have released their monthly findings. In short, while President Obama’s approval rating is slightly higher today (44/50) than it was last month (41/54), the results are nothing to cheer about. One pollster summed up the findings thusly:

Support for President Barack Obama and his health care law has grown this month, but a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll still reflects difficult terrain for Democrats with six months to go before midterm elections.

The higher support for the law, known as Obamacare, comes after the White House announced that 8 million Americans have enrolled in its insurance exchanges, beating expectations.

Overall, the results are better but still not good for Democrats, said Bill McInturff, a Republican pollster who conducted the survey with Peter Hart, a Democratic counterpart.

“These are very, very difficult numbers,” McInturff said. Hart used a baseball analogy: For Democrats, “It’s like the difference between from being five runs down to one or two.”

Let’s examine three separate issues:

Health Care: Thirty-six percent of respondents now say the president’s health care law is a good idea (a one point improvement from last month) whereas 46 percent say it is not. Meanwhile, 28 percent and 21 percent, respectively, say Obamacare either needs to be “overhaul[ed]” or “totally eliminated.” (Forty percent said the law needs “minor modifications.”) How the law impacts American families was also a question of interest. Thirteen percent responded it impacts them positively; 28 percent said the opposite. Most interesting, perhaps, 58 percent claimed it “hasn’t had much of an impact” on them at all.

Control of Congress: Respondents were evenly split on which party they wanted to control the federal legislature. As it happens, 45 percent want Republicans; 45 percent want Democrats. However, among voters who are the most enthusiastic about voting in November, the GOP boasts a substantial lead (53/38) on the “congressional preference” question. Thus, if turnout is low, Democrats could suffer heavy electoral losses.

The Economy: Is the nation moving in the right direction? Only 27 percent say it is. At the same, only 26 percent are convinced “the economy will improve within the next year.” And yet nearly half of those surveyed -- 47 percent -- believe President Obama “inherited” the nation’s current economic mess. That is, they blame his predecessor for the sluggish economy.

Bottom line: The big takeaway, I think -- and this is consistent with other polls we’ve examined this week -- is that the president’s low approval ratings are seriously jeopardizing Democrats' chances of controlling either chamber of Congress in 2015. Therefore, barring some catastrophic or unforced error (such as passing blanket amnesty right before the midterm elections), polls consistently show that Republicans are well-positioned to pick up seats.