April 29th, 2014
09:54 AM ET
7 years 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.

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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. Denise

    Wes, high school dropouts are a main voting constituent bloc for tea party/GOP. Look no further than the lowest income per capita RED states......

    April 29, 2014 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  2. Malory Archer

    Name jsmallz

    No surprise here. Where are the jobs that you promised us. Who cares about thw ACA. We need jobs.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Shouldn't you be asking crybaby and beaker – that WAS their ENTIRE platform in 2010, yet all they've come up with is more tax cuts for the so-called "job creators" and taking the last few crumbs from the poorest of the poor to pay for it!

    April 29, 2014 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  3. DRJJJ

    We need unity, we got a divider.

    April 29, 2014 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  4. Malory Archer

    Wes

    Who are these 41% that approve? Probably the 41% that couldn't pass highschool

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Yeah, except a quick search of the googlez proves just how wrong you are.

    April 29, 2014 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  5. Peace

    Let the polls remain this way till October and make republicans feel good all the time. Then they will come to be shocked by the results as it was in 2012. Keep engaged and focused Dems, then pull out another shock come Nov.

    April 29, 2014 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  6. loyalright

    If one voter per ballet applies this November, there will be a new majority in Congress and maybe progress in the future for this country.

    April 29, 2014 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  7. Thomas

    Mitt Romney is right about cash being King !

    April 29, 2014 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  8. Silence DoGood

    @Malory Archer
    Wes

    Who are these 41% that approve? Probably the 41% that couldn't pass highschool
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Yeah, except a quick search of the googlez proves just how wrong you are.
    ----------
    That is the problem right there. The radical right parrots Koch and Rush rumors without any fact checking. MSM picks up the buzz and runs non-specific fuzzy articles like "Obama rating?" and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. Good (meaning bad) return on the Koch money investment.

    April 29, 2014 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  9. Silence DoGood

    I hope this will get liberals just worried enough to turn out and vote in every election.

    April 29, 2014 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  10. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA - Take Back the House

    DRJJJ
    We need unity, we got a divider.
    --------------------------
    Who in today's republican party do you think can unite the country? As much hate & venom the right wing of the country has towards our current POTUS, I don't see how the country can unite behind a republican.

    April 29, 2014 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  11. Lewis

    People call Obama divisive. How has he in any way tried to divide americans? Here's an example of dividing Americans, how about from day 1 of Obamas presidency swearing to not pass any of his bills. How about constantly trying to dehumanize him, and call him a terrorist or a communist or a Muslim. How about creating a sub political party devoted to nothing but opposing the president. How about supporting anti-federalist ranchers who use women as human shields as they point guns at federal marshals. How about supporting a foreign enemy like Putin in order to undermine the administration. How about running political adds trying to convince people he was the anti-Christ or that he was not actually born in America. These republicans do nothing but lie, it's sickening.

    April 29, 2014 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  12. ProudDem

    Groan...polls never used to be news stories in themselves, and for good reason. They go up and down, they fluctuate, they give wildly different results depending on how you ask the question. Talk to me again when we're a few weeks away from the mid terms and Nate Silver has done his analysis on all of the polls averaged together. That at least seems to have some bearing on the elections.

    April 29, 2014 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  13. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Lets see how mid terms goes. We are after all voting on congress and their numbers really stink.
    -------------------------------------------------
    Correct.

    April 29, 2014 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  14. T

    On the other hand, the health care law is now more popular than the president, who remains way ahead of Congress. If Democrats can get some of the 10% or so of people who keep on telling pollsters that they oppose the law because it is not liberal enough, Republicans are finished. Think, people. Do you think telling pollster that you oppose the law because you want a more liberal law, and in the process helping Republicans who want to go in the opposite direction, is a good idea?

    April 29, 2014 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  15. Brian

    Dems are done. Stick a fork in them.

    April 29, 2014 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  16. Malory Archer

    DRJJJ

    We need unity, we got a divider.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Right on DR, and for that reason crybaby and mumbles the chinless need to be shown the door in November!

    April 29, 2014 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  17. Tony

    Wow, I am surprised. CNN accepted my message before I finished typing in my name and e-mail. I guess I am Mr. T now.

    April 29, 2014 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  18. Name

    Anyone who preaches this left right football battle like, "go dems" or "go rep", are fueling this divide by being uninformed. The ruling class is dividing us through demographics, we all have to see through this illusion of right and left because it really doesn't exist, and the reason that both parties are attacking the tea party because they don't choose coke vs Pepsi which makes them the most informed party since they make the government accountable and want less constrictions. Proof of this can be seen as the rep power grab as much as the dems, the truth is they are the same party and all they are doing is creating wrestling entertainment as they destroy this country and treat us like their cattle. They are the only ones that do what they say, although I might not agree with All their believes, I know they say what they mean and believe which is better then a lie stuffed rep or dem who are working for the same boss, multinational banks, special corporate interests, ect. You all know this but play to their beat. If we stop falling for this farce is the only way we will really progress and get out of their grasps, let's not divide ourselfs any further, red blue, black white brown, it really doesnt matter because we are all under attack by the same ruling class that is dividing us. Divide and demolish is the name of the game, don't fall for it, wake up for all our sakes.

    April 29, 2014 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  19. rla

    You know what really gets me is that the citizens understoon the problem long before this administration or for that matter the GOP who also has its collective head in the sand: WE WANT A PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES NOT the president of the progressives and their arrogant changes we don't need nor want. Why do these groups not understand that if they view the USA as their responsibility not groups or minorities they will actually create good things for everyone... I also must add that the CNN's of the world need to shape up and get a lot more balanced and intellectual rather than introspective and partiasn

    April 29, 2014 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  20. Ren

    Anyone who preaches this left right football battle like, “go dems” or “go rep”, are fueling this divide by being uninformed. The ruling class is dividing us through demographics, we all have to see through this illusion of right and left because it really doesn’t exist, and the reason that both parties are attacking the tea party because they don’t choose coke vs Pepsi which makes them the most informed party since they make the government accountable and want less constrictions. Proof of this can be seen as the rep power grab as much as the dems, the truth is they are the same party and all they are doing is creating wrestling entertainment as they destroy this country and treat us like their cattle. They are the only ones that do what they say, although I might not agree with All their believes, I know they say what they mean and believe which is better then a lie stuffed rep or dem who are working for the same boss, multinational banks, special corporate interests, ect. You all know this but play to their beat. If we stop falling for this farce is the only way we will really progress and get out of their grasps, let’s not divide ourselfs any further, red blue, black white brown, it really doesnt matter because we are all under attack by the same ruling class that is dividing us. Divide and demolish is the name of the game, don’t fall for it, wake up for all our sakes.

    April 29, 2014 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  21. Rudy NYC

    DRJJJ wrote:

    We need unity, we got a divider.
    ---------------------------–
    I agree. The Republican Party is full of dividers. From Romney declaring the 47% unworthy of his attention, to Paul Ryan declaring the country is comprised of "makers and takers", to Michelle Bachman declaring that Pres. Obama "is not one of us."

    April 29, 2014 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  22. Harold Read

    Obama... Man of his word:
    "The NSA does not spy on US citizens."
    "There was NO scrutinization of political groups by the IRS."
    "Guantanamo will be closed"
    "It was just a spontaneous group of protestors, not heavily armed and organized militia."
    "The economy has recovered"
    "We have shovel-ready jobs available"
    "Illegal immigrants will not be able to get Obamacare, even though we will withhold illegal immigrant statuses for applicants"
    "You can keep your doctor"
    "You will see $2500 in annual saving"
    "You can keep your policy. Period."

    April 29, 2014 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  23. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Lewis.... Thank you!!!!😍😍😍😍😍

    April 29, 2014 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  24. yolanda

    @Tony, your message was accepted by the "moderator" because of your previous posts and your "acceptable" views.

    April 29, 2014 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  25. Get Real

    DON'T WORRY DEMS, these polls are MEANINGLESS

    April 29, 2014 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
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