Despite winning the presidency in 2012, the Democratic Party has lost its clear edge in Americans' eyes on its ability to manage the nation's economy. The 42% who believe the party would do a better job of keeping the country prosperous is down from 51% in a September 2012 poll conducted shortly after the Democratic convention. While Republicans (43%) now have a nominal edge here, this reading represents virtually no change from last year, when 42% believed the GOP would better keep the country prosperous.
Americans have generally seen the Republican Party as better able to protect the country from international terrorism and military threats. Last year, though, the Democratic Party tied the GOP on this measure -- a rare feat for that party -- likely because of the timing of the poll, which was conducted after the Democratic convention.
This year, 45% believe the Republican Party is better on protecting the country and 39% say the Democrats are. This poll was conducted while President Obama was trying to rally support for a military response to alleged chemical weapons use in Syria, a position that few Americans support.
The Democratic Party maintains a slight edge, 39% to 34%, on the key question of which party is better able to handle what respondents say is the nation's top problem. Again, this represents a loss of support for the Democratic Party, because last year, nearly half -- 49% -- believed the Democrats were the better choice to handle the country's most important problem.
Still, the Republicans are not growing stronger while Democrats are weakening: the 34% who say Republicans are now better on this is down from 39% last year. Instead, 27% of Americans choose neither party or say there is no difference between the two parties, the highest since July 1994.The Navy Yard massacre prompts David Nakamura to write at The Washington Post:
Obama’s second term has been buffeted from the start by unpredictable calamities that have helped scuttle his priorities. In December, a mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., that left 26 people dead, including 20 children, prompted the newly reelected president to focus on an unsuccessful attempt to pass gun-control legislation ahead of other priorities.
In many ways, Obama has yet to recover from that early-second-term loss. Immigration reform, which was supposed to be Obama’s top domestic priority, is stalled in the Republican-controlled House. A budget standoff in the spring led the White House to accept mandatory, across-the-board spending cuts that have forced federal agencies to scale back programs. And escalating violence in Egypt and Syria has led to renewed questions about Obama’s foreign policy in the Middle East.