Obama Approval Rating Hitting New Lows

According to the Rasmussen Daily Tracking poll, President Obama’s approval rating has hit literally the lowest approval rating of his Presidency.   After bouncing back from -14 rating (the difference between strongly approve and strongly disapprove) on August 23rd, his rating is now back in negative double digit territory at -10.

While -10 is not as low as the reading on August 23rd, the internals of the poll have hit serious extremes.  Total disapprove is now at 52%, while strongly disapprove is at 42%.  Both of these are the worst readings of Obama’s Presidency and these internals suggest that ultimately the index will retest those lows.

In contrast, the Real Clear Politics polling aggregate still suggests that President Obama’s rating remains in positive territory.   As of the most recent reading on this poll aggregate, Obama’s approval rating is 51.7, which is positive, but, once again, the worst rating of his Presidency.  In addition, this poll aggregate is distorted by an outlier poll from the Washington Post and ABC News which suggested that Obama’s approval rating was 57.  If we set aside this outlier, then Obama’s approval rating is even lower in the aggregate. 

While we can debate whether President Obama has been effective or ineffective, to some extent that facts don’t lie so the debate is frivolous.  Both the Rasmussen Daily Tracking Poll, which is reputed to be right leaning, and the broader poll aggregate from Real Clear Politics suggest that Obama has reached an all time low in approval.  He entered the Presidency with sky high approval ratings and has since crashed down to earth, and in rather expedient fashion.

The primary culprit for this decline in approval appears to be the health care debate. 

We have a friend that is a partisan Democrat and she outright blames the Republicans for hijacking the debate, and that point has some merit.  The Republicans have not offered a real alternative to “Obamacare”, but have rather attacked the proposed legislation based on its potential extreme outcomes.  In effect, Republicans have combated the legislation by fear mongering.  While this Republican fear mongering has impacted Obama’s popularity and the popular view of healthcare reform, President Obama also shares the blame of the poor perception of heath care reform.

The Dean of Columbia Business School, R. Glenn Hubbard, articulated this point effectively in an op-ed in the New York Times this weekend.  As part of the op-ed, he wrote the following:

In the case of health care reform, we also need two debates. The first is over how to reform insurance arrangements to reduce cost growth and provide better value for the money spent. The second should be about access to health care. To achieve these goals, the president could embrace a compromise of tax and regulatory reform for cost containment, and progressive intervention to offer assistance to low-income individuals. But President Obama, like his predecessor, has been unwilling to let go of his campaign goals even as his words fuel intense partisan debate and obstruct his ultimate objective of improving health care value.

Dean Hubbard was comparing his experience attempting to reform Social Security while working for then President Bush, with the current healthcare reform attempt. 

Given the sky high costs associated with healthcare in America and the fact that many are uninsured, there is clearly a reform plan that works and will better serve Americans in the future.  As with the Social Security debate, the ability for the President to articulate the debate on the correct terms is critical.

President Obama’s primary issue is that he may have actually picked the wrong fight. 

While healthcare in the United States certainly has its issues, especially on the cost side, generally speaking voters are not all that dissatisfied with the care they receive. According to another recent Rasmussen poll:

“There’s also the reality that 74% of voters rate the quality of care they now receive as good or excellent. And 50% fear that if Congress passes health-care reform, it will lead to a decline in the quality of that care.”

Thus, according to this poll, American voters are not dissatisfied with their current care, but incredibly concerned that their care will decline if health-care is “reformed”.   President Obama is taking his shot with healthcare, but it has had a major impact on his popularity, which will take a long time to recover and likely have a major impact on mid-term elections, and his ability to win future legislative battles.

Daryl G. Jones
Managing Director

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