Erika highlighted this poll over the weekend, but it's worth revisiting for a few reasons. First, the numbers are truly putrid for Team Obama. Good times. Second, I have a theory about why the numbers stink as badly as they do. Let's start with the ugly stats themselves. Unsurprisingly, the New York Times buried the lede on its own poll, so I'll let Hotline do the honors:
For the first time, more Americans have an unfavorable opinion of President Obama than have a favorable opinion of him, according to a new CBS News/New York Times poll released late Friday, an indication that dissatisfaction with the president's job performance and the direction of the country is dragging down how Americans view Obama personally.
Just 39 percent of Americans have a favorable opinion of Obama, while 42 percent view him unfavorably. In January of this year, 40 percent had a favorable image of Obama, and 34 percent had an unfavorable opinion. In January 2009, as he was inaugurated, 60 percent of Americans had a favorable opinion of him.
While the president's approval rating -- which is down to 43 percent in the new poll, an all-time low -- is an important indicator of his re-election standing, the high regard Americans felt for Obama personally was a sign that Americans hadn't yet given up on his presidency.
That last sentence is key. Most Americans began to sour on Obama's policies long ago. That's nothing new. But the fact that his personal favorability is underwater for the first time really is an alarming sign for his re-elect team. Why the change of heart about The One himself? Maybe it was the terrible optics of his jaunt to Martha's Vineyard. Perhaps it's his desperate orgy of blame shift, exemplified by his pathetic jobs speech, and the unbecoming scheduling snafu that preceded it. Or it could have something to do with the recent proliferation of scandals that had rocked his administration. A quick refresher on the four concurrent White House messes:
(1) Solyndra. It's got everything: Massive waste, intentional deception, rank politics, cronyism, deep presidential tie-in, and a deep-pocketed Obama donor. This one's got legs.
(2) CLASS Act. The public hates Obamacare. It also hates being lied to. If the details of this scandal were a little less abstruse, it would pack an even bigger wallop.
(3) Lightsquared. Americans don't like it when any administion pressures military leaders to alter or change their sworn testimony on a national security matter in order to protect a domestic political agenda item. They also don't much care political favoritism, nor conflicts of interest.
(4) Fast & Furious. At least three people are dead, including a Border Patrol agent. The feds (including the White House and DOJ) have engaged in multiple permutations of fingerpointing and evasion. Each revelation is met with stonewalling. Will a Republican -- any Republican -- raise this in a debate? Please?
I don't think the public is totally dialed in to the minutae of each and every scandal/controversy I've mentioned, but their sum total has definitely taken a toll. If President Obama's favorables are upside-down this time next year, he's cooked. Parting thought: Can he dramatically improve his personal likeablility while running a viciously negative campaign?