Fox News is out with its first national poll of 2014, and the results don't look much sunnier for the president than they did in late December. They also track relatively closely with Quinnipiac's data released yesterday. The notable takeaways -- from economic priorities, to hot-button social issues, to the president's likeability:
(1) Obama's overall job approval is (42/53), virtually unchanged from last month (he was at 40/54 in the new Q-poll). His approval rating sits at (35/57) among independents.
(2) On policy, the president is upside down on virtually every issue polled: (-21) on the economy, (-38) on deficits, (-18) on immigration, (-21) on healthcare, (-22) on gun control, (-18) on Iran, and (-13) on income inequality, his pet issue. More on that in a moment.
(3) Fully 62 percent of respondents say they "dislike" Obama's policies. Less than one-third said they like both him personally and his policies. Conservatives should also take note that relatively few Americans (33 percent) say they dislike the president on a personal level.
(4) The president will focus heavily on income inequality in his State of the Union address next week. This problem is overstated according to the data, but has gotten worse on his watch. Moreover, it's not a top economic concern for Americans. On that question, 40 percent cited jobs and unemployment as their priority, while nearly as many (36 percent) cited government spending and deficits. Just 12 percent cited income inequality. Nearly three-quarters of Americans say they still feel as if the US economy is in a recession. It's technically well into its fifth year of recover -- but ordinary people's perceptions are understandable given outcomes like this.
(5) Respondents favor a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants (68 percent), support raising the federal minimum wage (56 percent), and are glad that the recent NSA revelations came to light (68 percent). Sixty-two percent say unemployment benefits shouldn't last longer than one year, as a majority (55 percent) believe the program discourages job seeking. Seventy-three percent say they don't believe the government should get involved to deal with the issue of some people making much more money than others. Just 12 percent say wealth is a zero-sum proposition.
(6) On social issues, the public is evenly split on same-sex marriage (47/47), favors legalizing marijuana by a seven-point margin, and considers itself more "pro-life" (48 percent) than "pro-choice" (45 percent) on abortion. Voters under the age of 35 are by far the most likely cohort to favor gay marriage and marijuana legalization, supporting each idea by roughly a two-to-one margin. This group also self-identifies as pro-life on abortion by an eight-point margin. Voters 35-54 are the most pro-choice demographic. More women choose the pro-life side than the pro-choice side (48/46). These outcomes may seem counter-intuitive in light of the media's preferred narrative, but shouldn't surprise anyone who read my post on abortion polling yesterday.
Finally, if you think a re-elected president's job approval numbers aren't politically significant, think again.