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Obama Down, Tea Party Up In Latest Polls

President Barack Obama (file photo)

President Barack Obama (file photo)

In U.S. politics, some new public-opinion polls contain bad news for President Barack Obama and some good news for conservative activists who make up the so called Tea Party movement. The new surveys appear less than four months before congressional midterm elections in November.

In the latest Quinnipiac University poll, President Obama's approval rating is down to 44 percent, the lowest number so far in that poll, which also says 48 percent disapprove of the president's job performance.

Mr. Obama's approval numbers have been dropping for months, says Quinnipiac pollster Peter Brown.

"Now that is not a huge difference over the last several months, but one way of looking at it is that a year ago President Obama had a 57-percent approval, 33-percent disapproval rating," said Peter Brown.

Brown says the main reason for Mr. Obama's sliding poll numbers is the economy, especially the high unemployment rate. But he says the president's rating is dropping in other areas as well.

"The president gets net negative grades on a host of issues-handling the economy, foreign policy, handling Afghanistan, handling the Gulf oil spill and illegal immigration," he said. "On all of those indexes, more voters disapprove than approve of the job he is doing."

For example, on the war in Afghanistan the Quinnipiac poll has support at 48 percent, with 43 percent opposed. Brown says that is the lowest number to date on public support for the Afghan war in the Quinnipiac poll, well down from the 56 percent who expressed support in April.

President Obama's approval rating has been steadily dropping in other polls as well for the past several months. Low presidential approval ratings during a congressional election year are often seen as a danger sign for the president's party, says pollster Peter Brown.

"Politics is a team game and President Obama is captain of the Democratic team, and if he is not doing well, the rest of the team is not doing well," said Brown.

Another poll this week focused on the so-called Tea Party movement, a national network of grassroots conservative groups fiercely opposed to the Obama agenda that is poised to help Republicans make gains this November.

The poll was done by Democratic pollsters Stan Greenberg and James Carville, who both worked for former President Bill Clinton.

The survey found that one-in-four likely voters this year are Tea Party supporters and that 86 percent of them either identify with or lean towards the Republican Party.

92 percent of them disapprove of President Obama's performance, and 94 percent of Tea Party supporters say they will vote this year, which makes them a potent political force, says pollster Stan Greenberg.

"We come away from this convinced that the Tea Party is real, it is very important and will have a big impact on this year's election, and in fact its impact may be beyond this year's election," said Stan Greenberg.

Political experts predict that Republicans will make significant gains in this year's congressional races, possibly winning enough seats to take back control of one or both houses of Congress. Republicans need to gain 39 seats to take control of the House of Representatives and 10 seats to gain a majority in the Senate.

Analysts say Republican control of one or both chambers would have a huge impact on President Obama's agenda and his ability to govern over the next two years. Republicans lost control of both houses to Democrats in the 2006 midterm elections.

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    Jim Malone

    Jim Malone has served as VOA’s National correspondent covering U.S. elections and politics since 1995. Prior to that he was a VOA congressional correspondent and served as VOA’s East Africa Correspondent from 1986 to 1990. Jim began his VOA career with the English to Africa Service in 1983.