Unemployment is down, hiring is on the rise, more Americans have health insurance than ever before, and the stock market is near all-time highs. But none of these factors seem to be affecting the mood of the American public, nearly two-thirds of whom believe the country is headed in the “wrong direction” according to a McClatchy-Marist poll released today.
The poll found that only 28 percent of Americans believe the country is on the right track, down from 32 percent when the same question was asked in April. The 64 percent who believe the country is on the wrong track was unchanged from the previous finding.
President Obama’s handling of the dual crises in Ukraine and Gaza is polling particularly badly, with only 32 percent approving of his handling of the Ukraine and 30 percent approving his treatment of the battle between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.
Despite a steady stream of good economic news in the past few months, the president’s ratings on the economy remain terrible. 58 percent of respondents disapproved of his handling to the economy, up from 54 percent in April.
The President’s overall job approval ratings remain upside down, with 53 percent of respondents saying they disapprove of the job he is doing, while only 40 percent approve, among the worst showing of his presidency.
If the president can take any good news away from the poll, it’s that his main antagonists, Republican members of Congress, are even less popular with voters. Only 22 percent of voters approve of the job the GOP members of Congress are doing, compared with 68 percent who disapprove. Democrats, while still upside down, are substantially better off than Republicans, with a 32 percent approval rating and a 59 percent disapproval rating.
“With neither political party having an upper hand with voters, expect a scramble for votes as the mid-term elections approach,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion
Interestingly, despite the public’s evident displeasure with Congressional Republicans, the GOP surged ahead of Democrats in the generic Congressional ballot. In April, the public preferred a generic Democrat over a generic Republican in the mid-term Congressional elections by a margin of 48 percent to 42 percent. Since then, support for the GOP has edged up one point to 43 percent, but the Democrats’ support has cratered to 38 percent.
But in a sign that neither party has a firm hold on the electorate, 45 percent of respondents said that they did not consider themselves affiliated with either the Republican or Democratic parties, the highest percentage the poll has ever recorded. By contrast, only 28 percent identified as Democrats, and 25 percent as Republicans.
A large majority of voters, 58 percent, believe that the GOP effort to sue President Obama over executive orders delaying implementation of part of the Affordable Care Act should not go forward. An even larger number, 69 percent, do not believe that Congress should take steps toward impeaching the president. Both courses of action, the poll found, would make voters more likely to support Democrats in the fall mid-term elections.
The poll, conducted between August 4 and August 7, had 1,035 respondents, all U.S. residents 18 years of age or older. Its margin of error is +/- 3 percent.
Top Reads from The Fiscal Times