Everyone seems to be talking this morning about the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll which tests public attitudes toward the Obama administration and Hillary Clinton. The full results are behind the Journal’s pay wall, but many of the results are publicly available.
President Obama’s approval rating is falling. He is at 41% overall approval, with just 37%, the lowest percentage ever, approving of his performance on foreign policy. This graphic shows the trend in WSJ/NBC polls from the beginning of the Obama administration to the present:
Those numbers remain way too high, in my view. But this statistic is encouraging; perhaps outside the hard core of the Democratic Party, voters are assessing Obama more objectively:
The president has also lost considerable support among the Hispanic population over the past year, with his approval rating among Hispanics at 44 percent compared to 67 percent in January 2013.
Obama’s competence as a leader is also increasingly questioned. A majority of Americans now say that he “can’t lead,” “can’t get the job done.”
These numbers caused NBC’s Chuck Todd to conclude that the American people have given up on Obama’s presidency:
This screen shot shows how respondents broke down on the question of Obama’s competence. Apparently the Obama administration is now rated less competent than Bush’s administration after Hurricane Katrina:
I haven’t yet been able to see the poll’s internals, so we don’t know whether the respondents were skewed in one direction or another. But the trend is unmistakable. The WSJ/NBC polling was done from June 11 through June 15, so it caught the Bergdahl swap (of which most disapprove) but not the disaster in Iraq. With events generally moving against the administration overseas, it seems likely that Obama’s overall rating and especially his rating on foreign policy still have some distance to fall.
The poll’s news as to Hillary Clinton is mixed. She continues to be a polarizing figure, as 38% say they “probably” or “almost certainly” will vote for her in 2016, while 37% say they “definitely” will not vote for her. Of course, pretty much everybody with an “R” or a “D” after his or her name is polarizing these days.
Hillary’s approval numbers remain relatively robust compared to the average politician; I attribute this, at least in part, to the public’s still evaluating her largely as First Lady rather than a “normal” politician. But, like Obama’s, Clinton’s numbers are falling:
Now, 44 percent view her positively versus 37 percent negatively.
That’s compared with April of this year, when 48 percent of those polled gave Clinton a thumbs up and 32 percent gave her a thumbs down.
That trend isn’t what she wanted from her book tour.
My optimistic reading of these numbers (recognizing, as always, that one shouldn’t put too much weight on any one poll) is that the cascading disasters that have marked Obama’s second term are starting to sink in with the public. The conclusion that Obama isn’t a leader and hasn’t much idea what he is doing is becoming more widespread; dangerously so, from the administration’s perspective. Once such perceptions take hold, they are hard to combat. My guess is that we are only at the beginning when it comes to falling poll numbers for Barack Obama and his former Secretary of State.