The Year of Polling Terribly

Washington’s leaders have broken records in 2013, and not in a good way.

National Journal
Marina Koren
Add to Briefcase
Marina Koren
Nov. 19, 2013, 10:19 a.m.

This year, no one in Wash­ing­ton is do­ing a good job.

That’s ac­cord­ing to fa­vor­ab­il­ity polls, which in the last few months have stead­ily churned out re­cord low after re­cord low of the Amer­ic­an pub­lic’s con­fid­ence in its lead­ers.

An ABC News/Wash­ing­ton Post sur­vey re­leased Tues­day found that 55 per­cent of Amer­ic­ans dis­ap­prove of the job Pres­id­ent Obama is do­ing, a ca­reer high since 2009. In a Quin­nipi­ac Un­vi­ersity poll last week, Obama’s ap­prov­al rat­ing sank to 39 per­cent, down from 45 per­cent at the be­gin­ning of Oc­to­ber. That rat­ing is the low­est in any na­tion­al Quin­nipi­ac poll for Obama since he entered the White House. And, for the first time in the group’s polling his­tory, 52 per­cent of voters don’t think that the pres­id­ent is hon­est and trust­worthy. The latest All­state/Na­tion­al Journ­al Heart­land Mon­it­or Poll put Obama’s ap­prov­al rat­ing even lower on Tues­day, at 38 per­cent.

Pew Re­search and NBC News/Wall Street Journ­al polls also re­cently re­gistered re­cord-low rat­ings for Obama. The former found that 65 per­cent of Amer­ic­ans dis­ap­prove of Obama’s hand­ling of the eco­nomy, and 59 per­cent are dis­sat­is­fied with his work on health care policy, both all-time lows in his pres­id­ency. The lat­ter at­trib­uted its re­cord-low ap­prov­al rat­ing, at 42 per­cent, in its own his­tory to “the ac­cu­mu­la­tion of set­backs since the sum­mer,” in­clud­ing far-reach­ing Na­tion­al Se­cur­ity Agency sur­veil­lance, de­bate over a U.S. mil­it­ary strike in Syr­ia, the gov­ern­ment shut­down, and most re­cently the botched im­ple­ment­a­tion of the health care web­site.

Pres­id­en­tial rat­ings have been worse, however, and Obama’s re­cord-low rat­ings are spe­cif­ic to his time in of­fice. Harry Tru­man holds the title of low­est ap­prov­al rat­ing in Amer­ic­an his­tory, with 22 per­cent, re­gistered in 1952. More re­cently, George W. Bush dipped to 25 per­cent in 2008.

Con­gress, on the oth­er hand, is a dif­fer­ent story. Amer­ic­ans’ ap­prov­al of the way Con­gress is do­ing its job dropped to 9 per­cent last week, the low­est in Gal­lup’s 39-year his­tory of ask­ing the ques­tion. The gen­er­al pub­lic’s dis­like sees no party lines, with ap­prov­al rat­ings dis­mal across the board: 10 per­cent for Demo­crats, 9 per­cent for Re­pub­lic­ans, and 8 per­cent for in­de­pend­ents.

An Oc­to­ber Gal­lup Poll found the Re­pub­lic­an Party in gen­er­al is viewed fa­vor­ably by 28 per­cent of Amer­ic­ans, the low­est meas­ured for either party since the re­search com­pany began ask­ing the ques­tion in 1992. The Demo­crat­ic Party fared bet­ter with 43 per­cent, but that num­ber has been shrink­ing all year.

An­oth­er Oc­to­ber poll from Gal­lup found that just 18 per­cent of Amer­ic­ans say they are sat­is­fied with the way the coun­try is be­ing gov­erned, down from Septem­ber’s 32 per­cent, re­cor­ded be­fore the gov­ern­ment shut­down. The num­ber is the low­est the polling agency has seen since it first star­ted ask­ing cit­izens the ques­tion in 1971.

Yet an­oth­er poll last month found that 33 per­cent of Amer­ic­ans say the coun­try’s biggest prob­lem right now gov­ern­ment dys­func­tion, the highest such per­cent­age in Gal­lup’s his­tory. “Amer­ic­ans simply feel the gov­ern­ment’s not work­ing well at all,” says Frank New­port, Gal­lup’s ed­it­or-in-chief.

If trends hold, Wash­ing­ton is set to close out the year with some of the low­est ap­prov­al rat­ings in polling his­tory. The driv­ing force be­hind the dis­mal num­bers of 2013, says Car­roll Do­herty, as­so­ci­ate dir­ect­or at the Pew Re­search Cen­ter for the People and the Press, is likely a polit­ic­al “per­fect storm.”

“You have a dis­mal eco­nomy, you have par­tis­an grid­lock, and you have a pres­id­ent whose sig­na­ture ini­ti­at­ive is now get­ting a pretty prob­lem­at­ic rol­lout,” Do­herty says. People shouldn’t un­der­es­tim­ate the ef­fect of con­gres­sion­al grid­lock on Amer­ic­an per­cep­tion of the gov­ern­ment, he adds. “The pub­lic looks at this and just kind of col­lect­ively throws up their hands.”

It isn’t clear what this year’s neg­at­ive num­bers mean for con­gres­sion­al in­cum­bents in 2014. But they sug­gest that the pub­lic wants its elec­ted rep­res­ent­at­ives to think hard about their New Year’s res­ol­u­tions.

What We're Following See More »
POTENTIAL CONTEMPT CHARGE
Nadler: Goodlatte Could Subpoena Rosenstein
3 days ago
THE LATEST

"The top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee says Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., is poised to subpoena the Justice Department for former FBI Director James Comey’s memos, which the agency so far has failed to produce. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., warned such a move puts Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in jeopardy of being placed in contempt of Congress and the special counsel investigation of being shut down prematurely."

Source:
NO NEW FUNDING INCLUDED
House Ag Committee Passes Farm Bill
3 days ago
THE DETAILS
"On a party-line vote, the House Agriculture Committee approved a five-year farm bill on Wednesday that tweaks the supports now in place—a promise of certainty, leaders said, during a period of low commodity prices and threats of a trade war with agriculture on the front line." The bill includes no new funding over the last farm bill.
Source:
WOULD ASSURE ANYONE PARDONED BY TRUMP CAN BE PROSECUTED BY STATE
Schneiderman Urges NY Lawmakers to Close “Double Jeopardy Loophole”
3 days ago
THE LATEST
INTRO’d LAST NIGHT
Ryan Tamps Down AUMF Talk
4 days ago
THE LATEST

Referring to the AUMF introduced by Sens. Tim Kaine and Bob Corker Monday evening, House Speaker Paul Ryan said Tuesday "he won’t allow any bill to come to the House floor that he thinks would restrict military commanders’ ability to fight." Ryan "defended the legality of U.S. military strikes last week against chemical weapons-related sites in Syria, saying President Trump had the authority to order them under the Constitution’s Article II commander-in-chief powers."

PROSECUTORS WILL GET FIRST LOOK
Judge Denies Requests by Cohen, Trump
5 days ago
THE LATEST

Attorneys for both President Trump and his attorney Michael Cohen lost a court challenge today, as they sought to suppress evidence gathered in a raid of Cohen's office and hotel room. "U.S. District Court Judge Kimba Wood denied the requests and ruled that prosecutors will get first access to the information, followed by Cohen’s defense team ten days later. Wood noted that she has not yet decided whether she will appoint a special master in the case at all."

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login