Polls Illustrate Obama's Economic Policy Troubles

by Benjamin Domenech on 1:27 pm September 7, 2011

The Washington Post/ABC News poll released on Tuesday was one of a number of recent polls which show President Obama at record lows in terms of support and approval. (As Elizabeth Blackney pointed out on our podcast, the Tuesday polls were all the more troublesome for the White House given that they surveyed not likely voters, but registered voters or simply adults.) But there was one question in particular where the Washington Post poll stood out from the rest, at least for me, in terms of interest: an indication that only 17% of those surveyed thought President Obama’s economic policies were making the economy better. It’s the third question here.

Thanks to the kindness of The Fix’s Aaron Blake, who is the man, here’s some additional background on what that 17% represents in terms of a breakdown based on age, race, income, and party affiliation. In each case, for clarity’s sake I’ve removed the small percentage of didn’t know/declined to answer.

First, by age: only 22% of 18-29 year olds say Obama’s policies are improving the economy, but that’s his highest portion. He does the worst among 30-39 year olds, who are at 11%. For 40-49 it’s 21%, 50-64 it’s 18%, and 65+ it’s 14%.

Second, by race: as we’ve seen in the past when it comes to Obama’s policies, the perception is different – but perhaps not to the factor that you might expect. 36% of non-white respondents have a positive view of the president’s economic policy, while 11% of whites have that view.  62% of non-whites say Obama’s policies have made the economy worse or had no effect, and 87% of whites share that view.

Third, by income: across all incomes, the mood is dire. The positive viewpoint on Obama’s economy fluctuates only slightly, between 19% for under $50k earners, down to 12%, and back up to 19% for 100k+. However you define the middle class, it’s clear Obama has enormous dissatisfaction with his policies across all income levels.

Finally, by party affiliation. The real trouble here is not the Independents in my view, 86% of whom say Obama’s policies have made things worse or had no effect. The trouble is with Democrats, of whom 12% say Obama has made it worse, but a majority, 52%, say his policies have had no effect. That’s a total of 64% of Democrats who hold the worse/no effect view. That’s simply stunning to me, and it indicates that even if they are unwilling to part with the President when it comes to a pollster’s question, it’s a sign that they’re not willing to pretend they see good things happening in the economy either.
And that brings us to a final point: Obama’s 2008 run was one of the most exciting experiences for political supporters at the national level in American history. His passionate fanbase was engaged, active, and innovative. And looking back, it’s become clear that this passion helped disguise some of the Obama campaign’s failings in both the primary and the general. There was so much fire among his active supporters that many missteps had a much milder effect. If not just a plurality but the majority of President Obama’s partisan base now thinks that three years of his policies have had no effect on the problem, there is going to be a serious gap in energy within the Obama campaign operation, one that will be very difficult to replace.

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