For the first time, more Americans have an unfavorable opinion of President Obama than have a favorable opinion of him, according to a new CBS News/New York Times poll released late Friday, an indication that dissatisfaction with the president's job performance and the direction of the country is dragging down how Americans view Obama personally.
Just 39 percent of Americans have a favorable opinion of Obama, while 42 percent view him unfavorably. In January of this year, 40 percent had a favorable image of Obama, and 34 percent had an unfavorable opinion. In January 2009, as he was inaugurated, 60 percent of Americans had a favorable opinion of him.
While the president's approval rating -- which is down to 43 percent in the new poll, an all-time low -- is an important indicator of his re-election standing, the high regard Americans felt for Obama personally was a sign that Americans hadn't yet given up on his presidency.
Republican pollster Glen Bolger made this point earlier this week in a blog post on the website of his firm, Alexandria, Va.-based Public Opinion Strategies. In the most recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey, conducted late last month by Democratic pollster Peter Hart and Republican pollster Bill McInturff (Bolger's partner at POS), equal percentages of Americans had positive and negative opinions of Obama.
From Bolger's post:For quite some time, Republican pollsters have been making the point to their clients: don't confuse the attitudes of base and swing voters toward the President. Base GOP voters do not like Obama's policies, and they dislike him personally (some more vehemently than others). However, we had consistently seen in our polls and focus groups that while swing voters are increasingly unhappy with his policies and his politics, they still liked Obama personally.
Lately, I have been making the case (and others may have as well) that we're nearing a tipping point for the President's personal standing. If his job approval ratings were weak, eventually swing voters would no longer view him as the shining star he believes himself to be.
There is little sign that President Obama is suffering disproportionately in support among Jews; 54% approved of his job performance from Aug. 1-Sept. 15, 13 percentage points higher than his overall 41% approval rating during that time, and similar to the average 14-point gap seen throughout Obama's term.American Jews' support for Obama has come into question after Republican Bob Turner won a surprise special election victory in the heavily Jewish 9th Congressional District in New York. The seat was previously held by Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner and has been reliably Democratic for decades. Some analysts suggested that Turner's victory was a result of the district's Jewish voters sending a message about their dissatisfaction with President Obama's policies.