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.
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Foreign Policy takes a look at the future of mining the estimated "100,000 near-Earth objects—including asteroids and comets—in the neighborhood of our planet. Some of these NEOs, as they’re called, are small. Others are substantial and potentially packed full of water and various important minerals, such as nickel, cobalt, and iron. One day, advocates believe, those objects will be tapped by variations on the equipment used in the coal mines of Kentucky or in the diamond mines of Africa. And for immense gain: According to industry experts, the contents of a single asteroid could be worth trillions of dollars." But the technology to get us there is only the first step. Experts say "a multinational body might emerge" to manage rights to NEOs, as well as a body of law, including an international court.
Not to be outdone by Jeffrey Goldberg's recent piece in The Atlantic about President Obama's foreign policy, the New York Times Magazine checks in with a longread on the president's economic legacy. In it, Obama is cognizant that the economic reality--73 straight months of growth--isn't matched by public perceptions. Some of that, he says, is due to a constant drumbeat from the right that "that denies any progress." But he also accepts some blame himself. “I mean, the truth of the matter is that if we had been able to more effectively communicate all the steps we had taken to the swing voter,” he said, “then we might have maintained a majority in the House or the Senate.”
Ronald Reagan's children and political allies took to the media and Twitter this week to chide funnyman Will Ferrell for his plans to play a dementia-addled Reagan in his second term in a new comedy entitled Reagan. In an open letter, Reagan's daughter Patti Davis tells Ferrell, who's also a producer on the movie, “Perhaps for your comedy you would like to visit some dementia facilities. I have—I didn’t find anything comedic there, and my hope would be that if you’re a decent human being, you wouldn’t either.” Michael Reagan, the president's son, tweeted, "What an Outrag....Alzheimers is not joke...It kills..You should be ashamed all of you." And former Rep. Joe Walsh called it an example of "Hollywood taking a shot at conservatives again."
In a sign that she’s ready to put a longer-than-expected primary battle behind her, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) is no longer going on the air in upcoming primary states. “Team Clinton hasn’t spent a single cent in … California, Indiana, Kentucky, Oregon and West Virginia, while” Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) “campaign has spent a little more than $1 million in those same states.” Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sanders’ "lone backer in the Senate, said the candidate should end his presidential campaign if he’s losing to Hillary Clinton after the primary season concludes in June, breaking sharply with the candidate who is vowing to take his insurgent bid to the party convention in Philadelphia.”