Politics

President's Approval Rating Below 50 Percent Just Months From Midterm Elections

| by Jared Keever

Two recent polls, conducted to determine President Obama’s favorability among voters, both show the president’s approval rating is below 50 percent. One poll by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal shows the president’s job approval has dropped to 41 percent, an administration low. Another, conducted by Bloomberg, shows the president has surged in popularity recently with 48 percent of respondents approving of his overall job performance. 

Those numbers are up from 42 percent says Ann Selzer, whose Iowa-based firm Selzer & Co. conducted the poll for Bloomberg. 

“The six-point increase in Obama’s approval rating puts him back in the territory he typically occupies,” Selzer said. 

Likely driving that increase is respondents’ overwhelming support for the president’s efforts to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10. The poll indicates that even Republicans support such a move in surprising numbers — 45 percent. Overall, 69 percent support a wage increase. Furthermore, the Bloomberg poll shows that more voters who identify as independent are supporting the president. Their numbers hit 42 percent in the current poll up from 35 percent in December.

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The NBC/Wall Street Journal Poll, however, tells a slightly different story. The overall job approval rating in that poll is the president’s worst in the survey’s history. The accompanying story on the NBC News website points out that 41 percent is not far off from George W. Bush’s 37 percent in 2006 when Republicans lost control of the House. 

“The wind is in our face,” Democratic pollster Fred Yang told NBC. “There is an advantage for Republicans right now.”

That does not bode well for the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives as campaigns heat up for the 2014 midterm elections.

Analysis of the two polls by the Huffington Post suggests that the 7 percent margin between the the polls represents a bit of a mixed bag for the president’s approval. However, it is likely that voter perception of Obama’s performance will have little to do with how citizens behave in voting booths in November. With numbers so low many Democrats have already distanced themselves from the president.

“The president is being taken off the field as a Democratic positive,” said Bill McInturff, the GOP pollster involved with the NBC poll. “When you have the most powerful person in the world [on the sidelines], that’s a big deal.”

One respondent to the Bloomberg poll reflected similar thoughts.

“People keep trying to say ‘Obama this, Obama that’ — he’s not the one responsible for it,” said Alba Basden, an Arizona retiree who answered questions about her responses to the Bloomberg poll. 

“It’s Congress — Republicans and Democrats — who can’t agree on anything,” she said.

That perception of Congress will likely be the most important as voters head to the polls later this year.

Sources: NBC News, Bloomberg, The Huffington Post