Fueled by his lowest approval rating in handling foreign policy and numbers that are barely higher for his handling of the economy, President Obama’s overall approval rating remains upside down with only four in ten registered voters nationally giving him a positive score. Although his job performance continues to be viewed positively by Democrats and negatively by Republicans, his approval from independent voters has declined from a previous poll conducted in April. President Obama’s favorability rating, overall, has also declined from that poll, and is now under water.
But, Americans could be uttering Casey Stengel’s baseball refrain, “Can’t anybody here play this game?” Ratings for both the Republicans and Democrats in Congress are even substantially below those of President Obama. The GOP matches its lowest score, and the Democrats are pretty much stuck at the low approval rating they’ve had for some time.
Although the GOP is now favored over the Democrats in the so-called “generic ballot” test owing to independent voters, this reversal of fortune from the April survey does not automatically convert into a “wave” election for the Republicans. Fewer than three in ten voters indicate that their impression of President Obama, despite his low numbers, will be a major factor in deciding their vote for Congress this November.
In fact, these poll numbers point to the failings of both political parties to address public concerns. The proportion of voters who now consider themselves to be independent represents nearly half of the electorate and is at an all-time high.
The bottom line: this gloomy national view all adds up to, by greater than two to one, Americans thinking the country is headed down the wrong track.
“With neither political party having an upper hand with voters, expect a scramble for votes as the mid-term elections approach,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “Don’t expect candidates to echo Johnny Mercer’s 1940’s lyrics, ‘Accentuate the positive; eliminate the negative.’”
The Republicans edge the Democrats by five points, 43% to 38%, on the national generic ballot for the mid-term congressional elections. This is a reversal from April when the Democrats topped the GOP, 48% to 42%. Democrats’ support among independents has eroded since last spring, going from 43% to 26% now. Interestingly, the GOP has not been the beneficiary of the Democrats’ loss of support from independents. They have remained at 40% in both polls. The proportion of independents who are undecided or not backing either party has doubled since April (Trend).
64% of Americans believe the country is headed in the wrong direction, and only 28% describe it as on the right track. This is the lowest optimism measure since the fall of 2011 and is appreciably lower than it was during the fall of 2010 (Trend).