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Obama’s public approval rating drops as Americans blame him for fiscal mess

By Reuters
March 6, 2013

President Barack Obama departs the Oval Office of the White House in Washington before departing to visit wounded military personnel at the Walter Reed National Military Center in Bethesda, Maryland, March 5, 2013. REUTERS/Larry Downing

President Barack Obama departs the Oval Office of the White House in Washington before departing to visit wounded military personnel at the Walter Reed National Military Center in Bethesda, Maryland, March 5, 2013. REUTERS/Larry Downing

Less than two months into his second term, President Barack Obama’s approval rating has dropped and Americans blame him and his fellow Democrats almost as much as his Republican opponents for a fiscal mess.

A Reuters/Ipsos online poll released on Wednesday showed 43 percent of people approve of Obama’s handling of his job, down 7 percentage points from February 19.

Most of that steep drop came in the week to February 26 when it was becoming clear that Washington was going to be unable to put aside partisan differences and agree to halt automatic budget cuts which started last Friday.

Confounding the White House’s efforts to blame Republicans for the cuts, most respondents in the online survey hold both Democrats and Republicans responsible.

Obama shot out of the gate in January at the start of his second four years in the White House, promising gun control and immigration legislation as well as efforts to tackle climate change and expand gay rights.

But Ipsos pollster Julia Clark said the survey shows Obama’s honeymoon is now over, partly due to the “sequestration” cuts which will likely curtail public services like air traffic control and national parks as well as funding for the Pentagon.

“People are seeing things are back to business as usual in Washington,” she said. “They are reading about the immense fallout this is going to have in terms of how it’s going to affect the military and individuals.”

Thirty-eight percent of Americans believe all the political actors involved – Republican and Democratic members of Congress along with Obama – deserve most of the blame for the cuts.

Twenty-seven percent think Republicans in Congress are responsible, 17 percent blamed Obama and 6 percent thought Democrats were to blame. Nearly half of independent voters, 49 percent, said both sides deserve the blame.

“I think this frustration is being reflected certainly in their view of the president and Congress as well. This is a pox on everyone’s house really,” Clark said.

The fall in Obama’s rating was similar to that in the Gallup three-day average tracking poll which shows his approval dropping 7 percentage points from late February to last weekend before recovering slightly.

WHITE HOUSE DEFENSIVE

That survey put the White House on the defensive on Tuesday. Spokesman Jay Carney cautioned that the result should not detract from Obama’s efforts to fix thorny tax and spending issues after a convincing election defeat of Republican candidate Mitt Romney last November.

“Before we say anything is clear based on one poll, could we just remember, just think back a few months to the summer and fall of 2012, and understand that we’re here focused on the president’s agenda, getting the work done that we think is most beneficial to the middle class,” he told a briefing.

Obama is now facing questions over whether he and fellow Democrats miscalculated the budget showdown and especially their messaging strategy of making frequent graphic warnings that public services were about to be decimated by cuts.

The strategy seemed aimed at having the public put pressure on Republican lawmakers to cede to White House demands to include tax increases as part of a solution to halt sequestration.

But tax hikes were always going to be a tough sell to Republicans, said William Galston, a Brookings Institution senior fellow who was a domestic policy adviser to President Bill Clinton

“Opposition to taxes is about the only thing holding the current Republican Party together,” Galston said. “I can’t imagine any Republican leader proposing a new deficit reduction package including tax increases and holding onto his job for very long.”

While the budget battle are complex, the Reuters/Ipsos poll showed many Americans are paying attention. The poll found 35 percent of those surveyed are paying a little bit of attention to the fight, 27 percent a fair amount and 9 percent a great deal. More than a quarter, 28 percent, knew nothing at all about it.

In the poll, 1,797 adults were interviewed between March 1-5.

The precision of the Reuters/Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 2.6 percentage points.
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Copyright 2013 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2013 Capitol Hill Blue

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3 Responses to Obama’s public approval rating drops as Americans blame him for fiscal mess

  1. Sandy Price

    March 6, 2013 at 8:44 am

    In my political world of presidential elections, my usual Republican votes deteriorated into voting for anyone other than a Republican. 2000 changed many of us into a third party rather than a political party based on the Religious Right.

    Being a third generation born in California, my world was based around individual freedoms for all. The religious churches pushed too hard in downsizing minorities including the immigration numbers of Latinos who added so much culture and labor into our State.

    Native Californians are not always white Christian straight men. People love to blame Hollywood for a lack of white religious culture but ask anyone who has been raised in this state and the labels do not always fit. They may have at one time but not in this century.

    Without a working GOP many of us voted for Obama in 2008 and again in 2012. The poor man was a Democrat and ran our government as a Democrat. The GOP not only fell apart but headed into a world of great trouble. The very worst of what the GOP could become, flourished under Gov. Romney. There is no chance for an ethical Republican to be found in America at this time leaving the Democrats with sinking approval numbers.

    The Tea Party warned us that “God and Guns” would be the new agenda. This will never work for me. This was the same agenda that was presented when the John Birch Society took over the GOP. It has turned the GOP into a movement against the federal government. If the Federal government is the enemy of American values, then it is time to move to another nation. Physically, I cannot do this as I raised my family as Americans but I will not ever work for another political campaign until we get our values back.

    I feel very sorry for the Obama family. They bought into a broken system of false values. They opened a can of worms that most of us thought was long gone. They re-lit the hatred from the civil war and there is no indication it will ever change. The hatred now has included all people of color and races.

    This is not my choice for a nation.

  2. griff6r

    March 6, 2013 at 12:32 pm

    While the people surveyed hold both parties resonsible, they continue to vote for these two parties.

    Are we really that dumb and afraid?

    Apparently…

  3. greg

    March 6, 2013 at 10:21 pm

    I will repeat what I read in commentary on another website.
    This is an online poll, hardly a scientific and analytical one. On the basis of that one poll, a whole narrative gets launched.
    This is shoddy journalism.