News / USA

    Obama's Weak Poll Numbers Worry Democrats

    Obama's Weak Poll Numbers Worry Democratsi
    || 0:00:00
    ...  
     
    X
    Jim Malone
    May 07, 2014 9:33 PM
    President Barack Obama has seen his approval ratings dip in some recent public opinion polls, which has Democrats worried as they prepare for November’s congressional midterm elections. From Washington, VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has more on what is behind the falling poll numbers.
    U.S. President Barack Obama has seen his approval ratings dip in some recent public opinion polls and that has Democrats worried as they prepare for November’s congressional midterm elections.

    A recent Washington Post/ABC News survey found the president’s approval rating at a record low of 41 percent.

    And the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found that only 38 percent approved of President Obama’s handling of foreign policy - also a low mark for his presidency.

    There are plenty of reasons for the dip in public confidence.

    Two-term presidents often experience a slip in poll ratings in their sixth year, just in time for the congressional midterm elections. And that usually spells trouble for the party controlling the White House, according to George Washington University expert John Sides.

    “For better or for worse, the president is the party’s leader and as he sinks or swims, so goes the party,” Sides said. “The Democrats would be in a much better position if Obama were having kind of an increase in his second term approval that would match something like Bill Clinton’s.”

    A number of Democrats in tough re-election fights in November are already putting some distance between themselves and the president, especially some Senate Democrats in Republican-leaning states like Alaska, Louisiana and North Carolina.

    “I think they are probably going to try to distinguish themselves somewhat from the president’s agenda and hopefully thereby blunt any impact that his unpopularity might have in those places,” Sides said.  “Democrats who represent Republican-leaning states and districts don’t have a lot of reason to mention the president, to have him campaign for them, to mention his record.”

    Foreign policy at issue

    Republicans will focus much of their campaign this year to voter worries about the economy and the troubled rollout of the president’s signature health care law, the Affordable Care Act.

    But recent polls also show a decline in public approval of the president’s handling of foreign policy.  In the recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, only 37 percent of those surveyed approved of the way President Obama is handling Russia’s intervention in Ukraine.

    Republicans have been quick to criticize the administration on Ukraine including Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire.

    “And so I’m disappointed in the administration’s tepid response that we’ve seen and I think it’s time to issue the tougher economic sanctions on sectors of the Russian economy,” Ayotte said.

    Democratic pollster and strategist Celinda Lake acknowledges that the events in Ukraine are having an impact in the polls.

    “There are a lot of Americans who like a more muscular foreign policy, particularly when you are facing the Soviet Union or former Soviet Union, particularly when you are facing a bully like Putin,” she said.

    The recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll also found that Americans appear to be more reluctant than ever to engage overseas, especially if there is a risk of military involvement.

    The survey found 47 percent agreed with the notion that the U.S. should be less active in world affairs, a figure that is higher for similar surveys conducted back to the mid 1990’s.

    But after lengthy military involvements in both Afghanistan and Iraq, pollster Lake said Americans are sending a clear message to policy makers from both political parties that it’s time to refocus on problems at home.

    “Americans are just so tired of being involved abroad,” she said. “There is just real fatigue about it.”

    President Obama defended his foreign policy during his recent trip to Asia.

    He said that critics always seem to want him to take tougher action, including options that might involve military force.

    “Why is it that everybody is so eager to use military force after we’ve just gone through a decade of war at enormous costs to our troops and to our budget? “ President Obama told a news conference in the Philippines recently. “If we took all the actions that our critics have demanded, we’d lose count of the number of military conflicts that America would be engaged in.”

    Preparing for November

    The president made light of his poll situation during his remarks at the recent White House Correspondents Association dinner in Washington.
     
    President Barack Obama laughs as actor and comedian Joel McHale speaks during the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner at the Washington Hilton Hotel, May 3, 2014, in Washington.President Barack Obama laughs as actor and comedian Joel McHale speaks during the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner at the Washington Hilton Hotel, May 3, 2014, in Washington.
    x
    President Barack Obama laughs as actor and comedian Joel McHale speaks during the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner at the Washington Hilton Hotel, May 3, 2014, in Washington.
    President Barack Obama laughs as actor and comedian Joel McHale speaks during the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner at the Washington Hilton Hotel, May 3, 2014, in Washington.
    “Folks are saying that with my sagging poll numbers, my fellow Democrats don’t really want me campaigning with them,” he said. “And I don’t think that’s true though I did notice the other day that Sasha needed a speaker at career day and she invited Bill Clinton.”

    Pollster Celinda Lake said Democrats are much more aware of their political predicament this year than they were in 2010 when Republicans clobbered them at the polls on Election Day and retook control of the House of Representatives.  She said Democrats are hyper-focused this year on turning out their core supporters who like to vote in presidential election years but not so much in midterm congressional cycles.
     
    This group includes what she called the “Rising American Electorate” of younger people, unmarried women and minority voters.

    Some analysts believe signs of an improving economy could help the Democrats blunt the Republican advantage this year.

    “Perhaps because it is spring we are seeing a tiny bit of optimism that we haven’t seen since before 2008.  [There have been] hints of it in a number of polls in the last two or three weeks and that could certainly advantage the Democrats if in fact it continues,” said public opinion expert Karlyn Bowman of the American Enterprise Institute.

    But Lake said that even as the Obama administration tries to convince voters that the economy is improving, many at the lower income levels are not feeling it.

    “Voters are very distrustful about the economy,” she said. “American voters, particularly blue-collar voters, do not feel that this economy is in recovery.  Many of the Democratic Party’s base constituencies are ones that have had the hardest time—young people, unmarried people, people of color.

    “So it’s a tough election cycle and you are going to see a lot of incumbents be surprised and you are going to see turnout matter a lot and it’s going to be tough for Democrats, there is no question about it,” Lake said.

    So while some Democrats keep their distance from President Obama in their re-election efforts, many will eagerly welcome campaign help from former President Bill Clinton and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, who is expected to decide whether to run for president sometime after the midterm elections.

    And helping Democratic candidates in 2014 could pay dividends down the line if Hillary Clinton decides to make another bid for the White House two years from now.

    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.

    You May Like

    Rolling Thunder Tribute to US Military Turns into a Trump Rally

    Half-million motorcycles are expected to rumble Sunday afternoon from Pentagon to Vietnam War Memorial for rally in event group calls Ride for Freedom

    The Struggle With Painkillers: Treating Pain Without Feeding Addiction

    'Wonder drug' pain medications have turned out to be major problem: not only do they run high risk of addicting the user, but they can actually make patients' chronic pain worse, US CDC says

    Video Canine Reading Buddies Help Students With Literacy

    Idea behind reading program is that sharing book with nonjudgmental companion boosts students' confidence and helps instill love of reading

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora