Obama 56, Republicans 30
A NYT/CBS poll finds that President Obama’s approval remains strong but support for his handling of key policy issues is dipping. The Republicans are not, however, gaining much ground.
At 56 percent, his approval rating is down from earlier in the year but still reasonably strong at this point compared with recent presidents.
More Americans are starting to credit his stimulus package with having helped to revive the economy. And Mr. Obama retains a decided advantage with the American public over Republicans on prominent issues, starting with health care.
The poll found that an intense campaign by Mr. Obama to rally support behind his health care plan — including an address to Congress, a run of television interviews and rallies across the country — appears to have done little to allay concerns. Majorities of respondents said that they were confused about the health care argument and that Mr. Obama had not done a good job in explaining what he was trying to accomplish. […] But the poll suggests that Mr. Obama is in a decidedly more commanding position than Republicans on this issue as Congressional negotiations move into final stages. Most Americans trust Mr. Obama more than Republicans to make the right decisions on the issue; 76 percent said Republicans had not even laid out a clear health care plan. And by a lopsided margin, respondents said that Mr. Obama and not Republicans had made an effort to cross party lines and strike a deal that has the support of both parties. Two-thirds of respondents said they wanted Congress to come up with a bill supported by both sides.
At the same time, there has been a slip in confidence in Mr. Obama’s handling of the war in Afghanistan. There is tepid support for maintaining troop strength there, much less increasing it, as his top commander in Afghanistan prepares to submit a request for additional forces. A majority of Americans do not want troops there for more than two years.
The percentage of people who approve of the way he has dealt with Afghanistan has dropped to 44 percent from 56 percent in April. The percentage of Americans who approve of his handling of the economy, at 50 percent, has dropped from 61 percent since April. In April, Mr. Obama had a 43-point advantage over Republicans in terms of who would make the right decisions on the economy; that has dropped to a 26-point advantage. Americans think the economy is on the mend, and there has been a 15-point increase, to 36 percent, in the percentage of Americans who said Mr. Obama’s stimulus package has improved the economy.
Congressional Republicans have an overall favorable rating of 30 percent, within the margin of error of where it has been all year (32, 29, and 28 in the previous surveys) in this poll. Congressional Democrats at at 47 percent which, again, is within the margin of error of where it has been all year (48, 50, and 47 in the previous surveys). So, the decline in Obama’s approval numbers (which are quite consistent with other recent presidents at this point in their first term) isn’t redounding to the benefit of the opposition party.
Republicans are making modest gains on issue areas but are still leagues behind the president. Again, though, that’s pretty typical: A president has to be doing a lousy job, indeed, to fall behind Congress in these things. Congress tends to be viewed with an esteem on par with used car salesmen.
Interestingly, those of us who think Obama is overexposed, making too many public appearances, are in a decided minority (35 percent) with 58 percent saying he’s making “the right number.” Only 4 percent think he’s making too few. (Interestingly, the Obama overexposed and Obama fatigue memes have been around since last summer’s campaign.)