The Year of Polling Terribly

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

National Journal
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 »
FOR IMPROPER SPENDING, INFLUENCE
Trump Inauguration Spending Now Under Investigation
2 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Federal prosecutors in Manhattan are investigating whether President Trump’s 2017 inaugural committee misspent some of the record $107 million it raised from donations, people familiar with the matter said. The criminal probe by the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office, which is in its early stages, also is examining whether some of the committee’s top donors gave money in exchange for access to the incoming Trump administration, policy concessions or to influence official administration positions."

Source:
WOULD HAVE CROSSED NATIONAL FORESTS
Federal Judges Nix Proposed Atlantic Pipeline
3 hours ago
THE DETAILS

In a rare rebuke to energy companies in the Trump era, "a panel of federal judges has rejected permits for the Atlantic Coast natural gas pipeline to cross two national forests and the Appalachian trail in Virginia, finding that the national Forest Service 'abdicated its responsibility' and kowtowed to private industry in approving the project. The harshly worded, 60-page decision issued Thursday by three judges from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit is part of a string of legal setbacks for the 600-mile pipeline. The $7 billion project, being built by a consortium of companies led by Dominion Energy, is planned to carry natural gas from West Virginia, through Virginia and into North Carolina."

Source:
PINS KHASHOGGI KILLING ON MBS
Senate Moves to End Support for Saudi War
4 hours ago
WHY WE CARE
REP. POLIQUIN HAD CHALLENGED THE LAW
Federal Judge Upholds Ranked-Choice Voting in Maine
6 hours ago
THE LATEST

"A federal judge on Thursday rejected Republican U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin’s constitutional claims against ranked-choice voting and denied the incumbent’s request for a new election against Democratic Congressman-elect Jared Golden. U.S. District Court Judge Lance Walker ruled that, contrary to the arguments of Poliquin’s legal team, the U.S. Constitution does not require that whichever congressional candidates receives the most votes—or 'a plurality'—be declared the winner. Instead, Walker ruled the Constitution grants states broad discretion to run elections."

Source:
SAUDI ARABIA, ISRAEL, AND THE UAE
Mueller Probing Middle East Countries' Influence Campaigns
7 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Officials working under Special Counsel Robert Mueller are investigating Middle Eastern countries' attempts to influence American politics, and are set to release the findings in early 2019. "Various witnesses affiliated with the Trump campaign have been questioned about their conversations with deeply connected individuals from the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Israel ... Topics in those meetings ranged from the use of social-media manipulation to help install Trump in the White House to the overthrow of the regime in Iran." Investigators are also probing meetings organized by Lebanese-American businessman George Nader, and Joel Zamel, "a self-styled Mark Zuckerberg of the national-security world with deep ties to Israeli intelligence."

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