Political Animal


October 05, 2011 11:20 AM Obama’s loss is not the GOP’s gain

By Steve Benen

The latest Washington Post/ABC News poll, at first blush, offers nothing but bad news for President Obama. His approval rating is down once again, and support for his handling on key issues keeps slipping further.

But as we’ve seen before, there’s a silver lining for the White House: the public is dissatisfied with Republicans much more.

Obama’s overall approval rating slipped from 47 percent before the debt-ceiling debate to 42 percent now, with 54 percent disapproving of his job performance. A record low 35 percent approve of Obama’s handling of the economy.

But the president’s new jobs package, which is supported by a narrow majority of the public, has bolstered his position on the issue. He now holds a 49 to 34 percent advantage over congressional Republicans when it comes to the public’s trust on creating jobs. That is a change from September, when they were evenly split at 40 percent each.

If Republicans think they’re winning the legislative fight, persuading people the president is on the wrong track, they’re mistaken. Not only does the American mainstream trust Obama more on job creation, but a majority supports the American Jobs Act, which the GOP refuses to even consider, and believes it would help the economy.

Americans also aren’t buying the Republican line on tax policy — a whopping 75% of the country supports raising taxes on millionaires and billionaires. It looks like class warfare is pretty popular.

And asked who cares more about protecting the middle class, Obama tops the GOP by 20 points, 52% to 32%.

As for Congress’ approval rating, support has dropped to a dismal 14%, the lowest since the poll starting asking the question in the mid-1970s.

Here’s a tip for congressional leaders: you can bring up the institution’s approval rating by working with the White House and approving a jobs bill.

But therein lies the rub: Republicans don’t much care. GOP leaders not only don’t want to boost the economy, they also aren’t terribly concerned with improving Congress’ public standing. On the contrary, Republicans seem to believe they should keep this up, turn Americans against their own public institutions, and create conditions in which voters hate everyone and give up on government altogether. The scorched-earth strategy, they figure, should even be enough to bring down Obama’s presidency.

Time will tell if this effort pays off for the radicalized Republican Party, but if the president was eager to run for re-election by running against Washington dysfunction, a do-nothing Congress, and a GOP that’s given up on trying to solve problems, Republican lawmakers are making his task significantly easier.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


Post a comment
  • Trollopoly on October 05, 2011 11:29 AM:

    I heard on NPR that Herman "Munster" Cain is 1st and 2nd in some polls this morning. What a riot!!

    Craptcha: acid splysts

    (sounds painful)

  • c u n d gulag on October 05, 2011 11:29 AM:

    Obama, like Truman, needs to run against the Republicans in Congess.
    He needs to tell people that Truman was lucky in that he only had a "Do Nothing" Congess. The current crop of Republicans make this Congress a "Do Worse" one.

    Rinse and repeat!

  • June on October 05, 2011 11:39 AM:

    I can't help but to keep thinking that if Democrats had pursued a similar "do maximum harm" strategy when Bush was the pResident, the right-wing noise machine would have tried and convicted them as traitors in the court of public opinion by now.

  • George on October 05, 2011 11:39 AM:

    Until the Democrats in congress put Obama in a position to succeed, his numbers will continue to go down. I don't understand...they are just as bad as the Republicans.

  • jrosen on October 05, 2011 11:40 AM:

    Someone at a whistlestop yelled "Give 'em hell, Harry!" and Truman replied. "I just tell the truth, and they think it's hell".

    Not a bad mantra. Give 'em hell, Barry.

  • T2 on October 05, 2011 11:42 AM:

    George is correct. Dems have to help Obama. Polls show that he has given them the cover to do so.
    The problem is that even the Media that commissions these polls are dedicated to continuing the "balanced" act. They will point out the bad numbers for Obama equal the bad numbers for the GOP, even while they stare the actual numbers in the face.

  • Equal Opportunity Cynic on October 05, 2011 11:56 AM:

    I guess November 2012 will provide the validation or repudiation of this strategy. Gin up outrage among your own lunatic supporters, then bog down government to the point where no one wants to vote except the loonies. Honestly i don't think it will win, because i think Obama's figured out he can push back with traction, but throw it a little bit of voter disenfranchisement and it's going to be depressingly close.

  • walt on October 05, 2011 12:02 PM:

    There's no solution to the conundrum of a citizenry that agrees with you on issues and values, but will vote for the other guys because they're hopelessly addled about who's causing the pain. Maybe Obama will bridge this disconnect but the Republicans have all the money in the world for spinning some of their toxic yarns. What do you tell some unemployed guy who's going to vote Republican because things have gotten worse under Obama? That he's cutting his own throat? Obama has a year to hammer this message home: Republicans don't care if you live or die, only that the rich are happy. Vote at your own risk.

  • stormskies on October 05, 2011 12:04 PM:

    not just voter disenfranchisement but the active efforts by the Repiglicans to rig the vote itself relative to all the new voter laws, the states that are considering now changing how the electoral votes are proportioned, and, then of course, the voting machines themselves which can be easily hacked.

    how any american at this point can think or trust the repiglicans to create more jobs, or to fix the economy after they are the ones who destroyed it, it itself a testament to the true stupidity of a vast majority of americans .. who are bordering on cretinism

  • mb on October 05, 2011 12:21 PM:

    got to agree with the comments above about dems in congress helping O out. The fact is they have no loyalty to him and more often than not take his proposals and water them down or say something so off-message that the story is immediately that Obama cant even get Dems on board.

    He needs to run against congress in a pretty big way. The Senate Dems could easily have voted for the jobs bill and put the pressure on Boehner & co. Instead they whined about provisions they dont like and gave silly statements to the press. Seriously, the Dems dont seem to learn ever. just keep negotiating in public among themselves while repubs make shit up about the bill.

  • Ron Byers on October 05, 2011 12:56 PM:

    Obama has a real chance to turn the coming election into a referendum on the Republican congress. I watched Chris Matthews take some Republican representative from Illinois apart last night. This morning Thune made a fool of himself answering Chuck Todd's softball questions.

    If the Republicans don't catch on that their crap isn't working and pass a significant jobs bill the idea that the Republicans (and blue dog Democrats) are actively working against the American economy is going to catch hold and will crush them in the next election. There is a real chance that the Republican house will flip and the Senate will stay Democratic. That might happen even if the Republican nominee pulls a rabbit out of his hat and beats Obama.

  • slappy magoo on October 05, 2011 1:02 PM:

    Republicans have to destroy the Beltway Village, in order to save it.

  • chromehawk on October 05, 2011 3:52 PM:

    republicans SHOULD pass Obama's jobs bill. Exactly as he has asked it. Nothing added nothing cut out.

    Because it will do nothing.

    So when unemployment is STILL 9% in summer 2012 ... they can say "We gave you not one but TWO jobs bills and where is unemployment? Oh that's right. Not a THING you promised came true. Obviously you do not know HOW to create jobs."

    And of course the "we did it YOUR way and got nothing but another half-trillion in the hole."

    To which the President can pull out all the "Jobs saved or created" topics he wants. And they will play worse than they did the first time. And that was bad.

    Seriously, the WORST thing that could happen to president Obama is the Republican House and Senate give him EXACTLY what he asked for.
    Because it either works -- or he is absolute toast.
    And worse.
    If it doesn't work and he is toast, the Progressive movement goes in the toilet with him for at least another generation probably two ( 50 years ) and all there will be is moderate Democrats.

  • Doug on October 05, 2011 8:11 PM:

    Don't worry, chromehawk, us "moderate" Democrats will keep the flame alive until "progressives" realize that they're not now, have never been and will never be, a majority of the Democratic Party; let alone a majority of the nation. Personally, I'd worry less about the Progressive Movement and more about the general welfare of the country and its' citizens.
    The end result tends to be the same...