President Obama hasn't had the greatest 2013. According to a new ABC News/Washington Post poll, the president is ending the year with a 43 percent approval rating, matching the lowest point of his presidency. And his supporters aren't nearly as boisterous as his detractors. Just 23 percent of all respondents strongly approve of his job performance, compared with the 41 percent who strongly disapprove.
The president still has his fan base. It's just that, these days, it isn't too rabid.
While the president has a 90 percent approval rating among self-described liberal Democrats, only 54 percent of that group "very strongly" approve of Obama, according to new data from the Pew Research Center. Thirty-two percent of that group explicitly approve of the president "not so strongly."
It hasn't always been this way. This past June, Obama had strong support from 73 percent of liberal Democrats, and had "not so strong" support from just 17 percent. The nosedive is most pronounced among liberals ages 18-49, only 46 percent of whom now strongly support the president, compared wth 65 percent of liberals over 50.
(Pew Research)The drop in strong approval among liberals — whether because of the NSA scandals, the stalemate on immigration reform, the Obamacare rollout, or anything else — presents a strong contrast to George W. Bush's base five years in. Even though Bush's base was smaller, it was far more vehement in its support.
Tuesday's Washington Post poll is obviously bad news for the president, especially heading into another round of midterm elections. But the apparent enthusiasm gap, if it continues on its current trend, could be a harbinger of much bigger 2014 problems — although the outlook is slightly better because older Americans vote in higher numbers in midterrm elections than do younger Americans. Democrats will have to hope that the president's on-again, off-again relationship with liberals hits a hot streak next fall.