April 29th, 2014
09:54 AM ET
4 months ago

New low for Obama in key midterm indicator

Washington (CNN) - Call it anything but a warm welcome home.

As President Barack Obama flies back to the nation's capital after a week long four-country trip to Asia, he's being greeted with new public opinion poll numbers that are nothing to brag about. And an ABC News/Washington Post survey, coming just six months ahead of the midterm elections, backs up previous polling that suggests that the President and his policies remain a drag on the Democratic party.

According to the survey, released Tuesday, 41% of Americans say they approve of the job Obama's doing in the White House, an all-time low for the President in ABC News/Washington post polling. And Obama's approval rating is down five-percentage points from the last ABC News/Washington Post survey, which was conducted in late February and early March.

2014 Midterms: CNN special coverage

The approval rating is considered one of the best gauges of a president's standing with Americans and of his clout with lawmakers here in Washington. And during a midterm election year, the approval rating is constantly under the national spotlight, as it's considered a key indicator of how the president's political party may fare on Election Day.

"It's what I call the north star of midterm elections, and that's the president's approval rating. You'll have polls jump up and down, you'll have issues rise and fall. The one constant if you look at history, to get a sense of where we're going, is the president's approval rating," said CNN Chief National Correspondent John King.

The new number is similar to the latest Gallup Daily Tracking poll, released Monday afternoon, which indicated the President's approval at 43%. Obama's approval rating has hovered in the low to mid 40's this year in most non-partisan, live operator, national polling. That's slightly higher than where the President stood in November and early December, when his approval rating was at or near all time lows in many national surveys.

Obama's numbers are far below where they hovered early least year, soon after his second inaugural and just a couple of months removed from his 2012 re-election victory, when the President's approval rating stood at 52% in a CNN Poll of Polls.

But the President's numbers tumbled after late spring and summer following controversies over the Edward Snowden intelligence leaks and congressional investigations into IRS targeting of conservative political groups. Then came October and the politically charged botched rollout of Obamacare, his signature domestic policy achievement. Coupled with legislative setbacks, many pundits labeled 2013 the worst year of Obama's presidency.

While the health care exchanges made improvements, and more than 8 million people signed up for coverage through the new law, the President has faced criticism of his handling of overseas hot spots year, such as the crisis in Ukraine. According to the ABC News/Washington Post poll, only 34% of the public approves of how Obama's dealing with the conflict between Ukraine and Russia, down eight points from early March.

How Obama compares to previous two-termers

Obama's approval rating is slightly better at this time in his presidency than his most recent predecessor, Republican George W. Bush.

"Low approval numbers usually spell bad news for the president's party. George W. Bush's rating was in the low to mid 30's in April of his sixth year and his party lost control of the House and Senate later that year. Richard Nixon got only a 26% approval rating in April of his sixth year and the GOP got hammered in the 1974 midterms," CNN Polling Director Keating said.

"On the other hand, high approval rating don't always help. Ronald Reagan's approval rating was at 62% in April of 1986 and remained that high throughout the year, but his party still lost seats in the House and lost control of the Senate in the 1986 midterms," Holland added.

The most recent two-term Democratic president, Bill Clinton, stood in the low to mid 60's in April of his second year of his second term. That November the Republicans lost five House seats to the Democrats but retained a narrow majority in the chamber. The GOP's ten seat advantage in the Senate remained unchanged.

2014 battle for Congress

The new poll indicates the two major political parties all tied up in the generic ballot, which asks respondents to choose between a Democrat or Republican in their congressional district without identifying the candidates. But among those who say they'll definitely vote in November, the GOP has a slight five point edge.

That number seems to back up the conventional wisdom that the GOP has an advantage over the Democrats in midterm contests, which traditionally have a much lower turnout than presidential elections. White votes and older voters,  key to the Republican base, tend to vote in bigger percentages in midterms than younger voters and minorities, who are an important part of the Democrats' base.

In another question in the survey, 53% of voters say it's important to have Republicans in charge of Congress to act as a check on the President's policies, with 39% saying it's more important to have Democrats in charge, to help support Obama's policies.

Democrats hold a 55-45 majority in the Senate (53 Democrats and two independents who caucus with the party), but are defending 21 of the 36 seats up in November, with half of those Democratic-held seats in red or purple states.

Key races to watch in 2014

Democrats need a net gain of 17 seats from the GOP to regain control of the House of Representatives. Political handicappers consider that a tall order, considering the shrinking number of competitive congressional districts nationwide.

The economy and health care

More than seven in ten questioned in the poll describe the current state of the economy in negative terms. And just 28% say they think the economy's getting better, with 36% saying it's getting worse and 35% saying it's staying the same. Two-thirds say the country's headed on the wrong track.

The economy, overall, remains the top issue on the mind of American voters.

Health care is also a major issue for voters this year, and Republicans are making their opposition to the federal health care law a signature part of their election year pitch.

The poll indicates that 44% support the Affordable Care Act, with 48% opposed. A majority (53%) say the quality of the health care they are receiving is staying pretty much the same, but a majority (58%) say that health care costs in the country are increasing due to Obamacare.

Whom Americans trust

The silver lining for the President and his party in the new poll: While his numbers are anything but impressive, the survey suggests Americans trust Democrats over Republicans in some key indicators.

By a 40%-34% margin, the public trusts Democrats over the GOP to handle the country's main problems. And by large margins, they see Democrats as better on middle class and women's issues. And they favor the positions of the Democrats over the Republicans on such issues as raising the minimum wage, same-sex marriage, and dealing with global warming.

The ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted April 24-27, with 1,000 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

 


Filed under: 2014 • Congress • Polls • President Obama
soundoff (137 Responses)
  1. gerald

    Obama the Welfare President, are you working while the crack dealer gets section 8, has 3 more kids and gets free health care for all his kids? Are you tired of paying for food stamps for people who are to lazy to work or don't want to because Obama and Washington just hand out Welfare and free cell phones while you bust your butt to make ends meat, send a message in the midterms and vote out every Democrat, the Republicans have been trying to stop their reckless spending but you'll voted in the Democrats that have run up deficits as far as the eye can see.

    April 29, 2014 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  2. silencedogood20

    Obama only has 41% because he has been carried and coddled by the media during his entire time in office. If they had been as biased against him as they are against any Republican, or even simply objective, he would have been impeached by now. Who knows what that advantage translates into percentage-wise, but if he's only slightly above GWB with that hate differential, his real number, as will be judged by posterity, is probably comparable to Nixon. History will not be kind to this loser and those who support him. Reality has an anti-liberal bias.

    April 29, 2014 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  3. keeeleee

    It's sad so many people have trusted him for so long.

    April 29, 2014 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  4. Ken

    I still love how the Democratically controlled media still trys to spin everything in a favorable liight for this POTUS. Stating that the ACA has now seen 8 million sign up, too bad they always fail to mention that ~6 million of those were forced to sign up as they were not allowed to keep their policies that they already had and liked.

    April 29, 2014 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  5. Name

    I don't buy these polls.if people get out and vote gop is going down.

    April 29, 2014 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  6. john

    Approvals ratings be damned. His job performance is at an all time low, for any president in history.

    April 29, 2014 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  7. SGT Rock101

    We'll see if this holds true. They were saying much the same in 2012.

    April 29, 2014 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  8. waitaminute

    No one trusts Obama and his liberal bootlickers anymore.The 41 percent are partly the illegals who just want handouts. The other part are the pedophiles and perverts who want free reign over American values. A few are just diehard socialistswho want to be at the top of the food chain in a socialist government. But they don't really trust Obama. They know that his real allegience lies with the Muslim Brotherhood, who will kill them al if ggiven the chance.But for now, to them, Obama seems like a means to their fantasies.

    April 29, 2014 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  9. Eagle6421

    Why is it that when Obama does not run his mouth his ratings go up and when he starts his divisive rhetoric it goes down? Maybe he should keep his mouth shut. But community organizers are not very good at that though.

    April 29, 2014 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  10. Demigod Vadik, CA

    Gallup has had him at a steady 45%...

    ...and even Fox News Poll has him at 42%...

    ...so I'm not sure who Washington Post polled, but we shall see...

    April 29, 2014 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  11. Mav

    Like Bush was any better, really... Polls mean nothing, he won a second term and basically expended all his political capital on healthcare. He could have been a really good president but he certainly wasn't the worst. Too early to judge his overall impact history will do that.

    April 29, 2014 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  12. Solomon Walker

    Impeach for Treason.
    For excessive commotion and distraction against the natural course of the American spirit, and autocratic perils against national security, because of the numerous aberrant or criminally-distrustful acts by members of Barack Obama’s cabinet or associations or former associations, that purposefully grain against the vital and necessary allegiance and economic well-being of the United States of America.
    ✡©2014 Kimberly A. Campbell. All Rights Reserved.

    April 29, 2014 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  13. Solomon Walker

    Impeach for Treason –
    For excessive commotion and distraction against the natural course of the American spirit, and autocratic perils against national security, because of the numerous aberrant or criminally-distrustful acts by members of Barack Obama’s cabinet or associations or former associations, that purposefully grain against the vital and necessary allegiance and economic well-being of the United States of America.
    ✡©2014 Kimberly A. Campbell. All Rights Reserved.

    April 29, 2014 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  14. amanda johnson

    Obama is the worst President in the history of our Country. It's that simple.

    Our country is in a cycle of trying to show everyone how progressive we are to elect a black president. Next it's look at us, we can elect a female president.

    Our country does not operate on principals anymore. Everyone is trying to short cut principals and look to the end result.

    We want to help poor people. Great! So do I. But I don't want you to steal money, print it and give it away. I want you to shrink the government and let hard working people grow the economy without the government stifling their efforts.

    April 29, 2014 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  15. Bud

    I voter for this guy, but I think he has been a major disappointment. My wife and I both had our insurance policies cancelled and we now cant go to some of the Doctors we had before. Very frustrating. This is the guy that is supposedly the protector of the "little guy", etc, against the big bad rich guys. Well the "little guys" are the ones who would benefit from the building of the pipeline-the construction guys, etc. How a labor union could support the Democrats is beyond my comprehension. And don't even get me started on foreign policy. Wasn't this the guy that was going to repair all the damage internationally that W caused? Things are worse.

    April 29, 2014 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  16. Jme

    Democraps are in a panic and this indicates it's getting worse by the day. The November candidates don't want to be seen with Obama and who can blame them. It is going to be a bloody massacre. Can't wait.

    April 29, 2014 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  17. sly

    President Obama is one of the most effective leaders we've had in the past 50 years.

    No surprise that onl;y 40% of Americans approve of him.

    Look at Americans: An ignorant rancher walking around with a dead calf around his neck. Crook Christie and the Grimm Criminal and the Kissing Congressmen have the support of their voters. Home team fans like the Yankees, Red Sox and Brewers cheer their convicted Steriod Cheaters (Ortiz, Braun, most Yankees). Republicans cheer torture, but whine when our victims chop off soldiers heads? Goes around, comes around.

    A sick society – heck – half of them want to ban health care for 50 million disabled veterans and teachers. Selfish, sick, and not real bright.

    April 29, 2014 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  18. Sniffit

    " he would have been impeached by now"

    For what? No really...I want you to state what you think his "high crimes and misdemeanors" were. Wave that ignorance around like a flag, champ. Don't be shy.

    April 29, 2014 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  19. nikki

    Shocking! Low ratings for a liar and a wanna be dictator? What?

    April 29, 2014 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  20. Kenny

    How could anyone still actually approve of this guy. Every promise he has ever made is a lie (most transparent gov't ever, you can keep your doctor, etc) and he is completely anti-American. The only promise he is keeping is the "fundamental transformation" of the United States; transforming it into a banana-republic right before our eyes!

    April 29, 2014 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  21. Crampon

    Now with the Benghazi cover up proof, he'll be at 13%.

    April 29, 2014 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  22. Natrldiver

    It is good to see that people are happy with failure and lies. At the end of this term that is all Obama will have to mark his legacy by and an additional $10 trillion to the national debt.

    April 29, 2014 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  23. Rudy NYC

    Tom l wrote:

    Why isn't the gang just as upset with Al Sharpton? He owes money. He's a tax evader. Where's your anger in him?
    ------------------------------–
    What makes you think that Sharpton owes money? If Sharpton has evaded taxes for 20 years, then he'd be in jail, just like Wesley Snipes. Is this one of your explanations of what it means to be a conservative? Please, carry on.

    April 29, 2014 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  24. Silence DoGood

    @waitaminute
    No one trusts Obama and his liberal bootlickers anymore.The 41 percent are partly the illegals who just want handouts. The other part are the pedophiles and perverts who want free reign over American values. A few are just diehard socialistswho want to be at the top of the food chain in a socialist government. But they don't really trust Obama. They know that his real allegience lies with the Muslim Brotherhood, who will kill them al if ggiven the chance.But for now, to them, Obama seems like a means to their fantasies.
    ----------–
    I am not in favor of taking everyone's guns away, but dude, I am so in favor of taking your guns away.

    April 29, 2014 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  25. Sniffit

    "~6 million of those were forced to sign up as they were not allowed to keep their policies that they already had and liked."

    Cite your source and the methodology or underlying data that was used to generate that figure. No? Can't do it? It's just more GOP/Teatroll wish-think "unskewing" whatever data and numbers are contrary to what they want to hear?

    Confirmation bias is a helluva drug, eh?

    April 29, 2014 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
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