Public confidence in President Obama has hit a new low, according to the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll. Four months before midterm elections that will define the second half of his term, nearly six in 10 voters say they lack faith in the president to make the right decisions for the country, and a clear majority once again disapproves of how he is dealing with the economy.[...]On a related note, Michelle Obama wants you to visit the gulf coast.
Overall, more than a third of voters polled -- 36 percent -- say they have no confidence or only some confidence in the president, congressional Democrats and congressional Republicans. Among independents, this disillusionment is higher still. About two-thirds of all voters say they are dissatisfied with or angry about the way the federal government is working.
Such broad negative sentiments have spurred a potent anti-incumbent mood. Just 26 percent of registered voters say they are inclined to support their representative in the House this fall; 62 percent are inclined to look for someone new.
Democrats nationally remain on the defensive as they seek to retain both houses of Congress this fall. Registered voters are closely divided on the question of whether they will back Republicans or Democrats in House races. Among those who say they are sure to cast ballots in November, 49 percent side with the GOP and 45 percent with Democrats.
Overall, a slim majority of all voters say they would prefer Republican control of Congress so that the legislative branch would act as a check on the president's policies. Those most likely to vote in the midterms prefer the GOP over continued Democratic rule by a sizable margin of 56 percent to 41 percent.
Economic worries continue to frame the congressional campaigns. Almost all Americans rate the economy negatively, although compared with the depths of the recession in early 2009, far fewer now describe economic conditions as "poor." Only about a quarter of all Americans think the economy is improving.
Recent economic developments -- a declining stock market, problems in the housing industry and an unemployment report showing only tepid job growth in the private sector -- may have bruised the president's ratings.
Just 43 percent of all Americans now say they approve of the job Obama is doing on the economy, while 54 percent disapprove. Both are the worst, marginally, of his presidency. Even a third of Democrats give him negative marks here. And overall, intensity runs clearly against the president on the issue, with twice as many people rating him strongly negative as strongly positive.[...]
Public opinion is split down the middle on the question of whether the government should spend more money to stimulate the economy in a way that leads to job creation. Among those who support such new spending, 18 percent change their minds when asked what they think if such outlays could sharply increase the budget deficit. In that scenario, 57 percent opposed another round of spending.
About six in 10 Democrats say they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who favors new government spending, while 55 percent of Republicans say they would be less likely to do so. Independent voters are divided on the question, with 41 percent more apt to oppose and 35 percent to support.[...]
Obama's overall job-approval rating stands at 50 percent, equaling his low point in Post-ABC polling; 47 percent disapprove of the job he is doing. For the first time in his presidency, those who strongly disapprove now significantly outnumber those who strongly approve.
Among those who say they definitely will vote in November, 53 percent disapprove of the way he is handling his responsibilities.
The president's approval ratings reached a new low among whites, at 40 percent, with his positive marks dipping under 50 percent for the first time among white college-educated women.
On the issues tested in the poll, Obama's worst ratings come on his handling of the federal budget deficit, where 56 percent disapprove and 40 percent approve. He scores somewhat better on health-care reform (45 percent approve) and regulation of the financial industry (44 percent). His best marks come on his duties as commander in chief, with 55 percent approving.
Obama's overall standing puts him at about the same place President Bill Clinton was in the summer of 1994, a few months before Republicans captured the House and Senate in an electoral landslide.
President Ronald Reagan, who also contended with a serious recession at the outset of his first term, was a little lower at this point in 1982, with a 46 percent to 45 percent split on his approval ratings. Republicans went on to lose about two dozen seats in the House that fall.
Of course, Reagan and Clinton subsequently rebounded and went on to win reelection easily. Obama advisers find some hope from that history, even as the historical record foreshadows Democratic losses this November.
“It is vacation time. Folks are looking for things to do with their kids, and this would be a great opportunity to do a few things -- help this community, send a different message about the extent of the spill, and also think long term about how the rest of the country can help this economy and the folks down here,” Mrs. Obama said at the Panama City Welcome Center.
The Obama family will be taking a mini-vacation of their own this weekend, but instead of going to the Gulf Coast they are traveling to Maine’s Mount Desert Island, home of Acadia National Park.
Mrs. Obama said the word needs to get out to Americans that there are “beautiful beaches” along the Gulf Coast and it’s a great time for families to come down with their kids.
“There are still thousands of miles of beaches that have not been touched by the spill,” the first lady said. “And there are communities that thrive on tourism and on the economic power of beaches that have not been damaged.”