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 »
SHUTDOWN OFFICIALLY ENDS
Trump Signs Spending Bill
8 hours ago
THE LATEST
DACA VOTE TO COME
Dems Agree to Take McConnell’s Deal
16 hours ago
THE LATEST

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said he's accepting Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's offer to hold an immigration vote at a later date, "clearing the way for passage of a bill to reopen the federal government" today. "McConnell early Monday promised to take up an immigration bill that would protect an estimated 800,000 Dreamers from deportation, under an open amendment process, if Democrats would agree to end the government shutdown."

Source:
IN EXCHANGE FOR FUNDING VOTE TODAY
McConnell Promises Vote on Immigration
18 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Monday promised to take up an immigration bill protecting an estimated 800,000 Dreamers from deportation and allow an open amendment process if Democrats agree to reopen the government." He may need up to a dozen Democratic votes.

Source:
CALLS FOR ‘NO CRS”
Trump Floats Support for Nuclear Option in Senate
1 days ago
THE LATEST
MORE AGENCIES TO FURLOUGH WORKERS
Senate Can’t Reach Deal on Shutdown, Will Try Again Monday
1 days ago
THE LATEST

The Senate on Sunday failed to reach agreement on a plan to fund the government through Feb. 8, postponing the vote until noon on Monday. "While lawmakers angled to score political points or shift blame, most agencies planned Monday to begin executing orderly shutdown procedures, per guidance from Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney."

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