President Obama will speak to the nation Tuesday night with approval ratings lower than for any of his previous State of the Union addresses and with Americans broadly pessimistic that he or lawmakers of either party will make good decisions for the future of the country, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
Obama’s general weakness and the overall lack of confidence in the country’s political leadership provide a stark backdrop to the beginning of a potentially significant election year. Obama is looking to rebound from what many have judged to be the worst year of his presidency while Republicans, who were damaged during last fall’s partial government shutdown, are hoping to wrest control of the Senate from Democrats.
Obama’s standing will be an important factor in how those fall elections turn out. For Democrats, the good news is that he has improved his position from the lows of last year, when the botched rollout of the Affordable Care Act took his ratings to the lowest point of his presidency.
His current approval stands at 46 percent, up from a low of 42 percent in November. Still, for the first time on the eve of a State of the Union address, more Americans rate his performance negatively than positively, with 50 percent disapproving. His previous low at the start of a new year was 48 percent positive, 48 percent negative in 2012. A year ago, his approval rating was 55 percent.
Just 37 percent say they have either a good amount or a great deal of confidence in the president to make the right decisions for the country’s future, while 63 percent say they do not. Those numbers are the mirror image of what they were when he was sworn into office in 2009 and lower than at any other time the question was asked by The Washington Post and ABC News.
Obama’s approval ratings are almost identical to those of George W. Bush at a similar point in his presidency in 2006. Other recent two-term presidents — Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan — were at 60-percent approval at the start of their sixth years, while Richard M. Nixon, in the middle of the Watergate scandal, was at 26 percent.
Confidence in Democrats and Republicans in Congress, however, is even lower than for President Obama. Twenty-seven percent say they have confidence in Democrats to make the right decisions for the country, while 72 percent do not, and just 19 percent have confidence in Republicans, while 80 percent do not. Almost half lack confidence in all three.
For the GOP, the lack of faith in their decision-making includes their own followers. Just 36 percent of self-identified Republicans say they believe their party’s lawmakers will make good decisions. In contrast, a majority of Democrats have confidence in their congressional party.
The low confidence in congressional Democrats and Republicans is consistent with a pattern of poor ratings of congressional performance that marked the past year. In the new poll, just 16 percent approve of the way Congress is doing its job, only a few points higher than the lowest reading recorded by the Post-ABC poll last October, just after the partial shutdown ended.
Read more here http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/poll-finds-little-faith-in-nations-leaders/2014/01/25/a94d69c4-8534-11e3-9dd4-e7278db80d86_story.html?hpid=z2
*See poll results here http://www.washingtonpost.com/page/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2014/01/26/National-Politics/Polling/release_289.xml