Saturday, September 20th, 2014

Obama Slipping But Still Has Juice

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By: John Zogby Forbes.com Contributor

Democratic Presidents and Presidential contenders have a long history of bad summers. Jimmy Carter's only term in office was pretty much undone by his famous "malaise speech" of 1979. Who can forget Michael Dukakis riding in the tank in 1988? Bill Clinton used a sworn deposition before a Special Prosecutor to school Americans on "what the definition of is is". John Kerry went wind surfing, a sport enjoyed by tens of millions of Americans, while his exemplary military service was picked apart by his opposition and Barack Obama just hasn't had a good summer yet.

Here it is the summer of 2013 and the President faces a barrage of bad news. First it is a series of scandals - Benghazi, the IRS, and NSA eavesdropping. Then it is chaos in Syria and Egypt, while the nation he leads stands by powerless. All of this is followed by the antics of a young high school dropout who has used his security clearance to reveal highly classified secrets that are embarrassing the United States before its allies. To cap it all off, the President's domestic agenda is stalled, notably his efforts to pass the first real immigration reform in a generation.

But while President Obama's approval rating has slipped, a new Zogby Analytics poll shows that he still has some considerable juice. The new poll, conducted July 12-13 among 919 likely voters nationwide, shows Mr. Obama receiving a 49% approval rating, while 49% disapprove of his job performance. While he holds on to support within some key elements of his base, the new poll suggests that he is losing some of the strength he once enjoyed among groups that have formed the nucleus of his coalition. He maintains strong support levels from fellow Democrats (85%) and liberals (84%), even in the wake of the NSA revelations, but his approval ratings among independents (39%) and Catholics (49%) are well below where he was the day of his re-election last November.

He still has very strong support among voters in union households (65%), moderates (58%), NASCAR fans (59%), and the Investor Class (55%), but he has lost significant chunks of support among other groups he needs. For example, when he won re-election in 2012, he received 61% of the vote among 18-29 year olds. The new Zogby Analytics poll puts him at only 46% approval. He won with 71% of Hispanics and 93% of African Americans - but today now stands at 68% and 84% respectively. Since his re-election, he was polling over 80% support among Hispanics so the drop among this group has really been precipitous. Mr. Obama had also won with a majority of Frequent Wal-Mart Shoppers but is now at 46% approval among this group.

But he still receives a positive approval among both women (52%) and the Creative Class (52%). And his current rating is still three times more popular than that of Congress. In short, and I am repeating myself here, his 49% rating - the lowest in a Zogby Analytics poll since well before the 2012 election - is nowhere near the 22% mark received by Harry S. Truman (after he relieved Gen. Douglas MacArthur of his duties in the Pacific), Richard Nixon's 24% (right before he resigned from office), Jimmy Carter's 28% , Gerald Ford's 35% (right after he pardoned Nixon), or Ronald Reagan's 35% (at the peak of the 1982 recession).

In short, this President is on the wrong side of a majority, but he still has more good will than his predecessors at their low points.

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