Why is President Barack Obama out on the hustings these days talking about health care reform and what parts of it will kick in immediately, pointing out that the media needs to write instant judgments before it’s really prudent to do so and telling a reporter that talk radio is divisive (“NO DUH”)? Perhaps because it’s because in some polls he is coming up as popularity challenged — despite the initial bounced that seemed to be the case after the passage of health care reform.
The latest CBS News Poll, conducted between March 29 and April 1, found Americans unhappier than ever with Mr. Obama’s handling of health care – and still worried about the state of the economy.
President Obama’s overall job approval rating has fallen to an all-time low of 44 percent, down five points from late March, just before the health bill’s passage in the House of Representatives. It’s down 24 points since his all-time high last April. Forty-one percent of those polled said they disapproved of the president’s performance.
When it comes to health care, the President’s approval rating is even lower — and is also a new all-time low. Only 34 percent approved, while 55 percent said they disapproved.
Americans are still worried about the economy, with 84 percent telling CBS they thought it was still in bad condition. However, even that high number represents an improvement: nine in ten thought the economy was bad during the last half of 2008 and at the beginning of 2009, when Mr. Obama assumed the Presidency.
Concern about job loss remains high; slightly more Americans now (35 percent) than in February (31 percent) were “very concerned” that someone in their household would lose a job. Nearly six in ten Americans said they were at least “somewhat concerned” about a job loss.
Obama is correct: health care reform hasn’t kicked in yet and political pundits might consider that it’s a long way until November. But it’s clear Obama has two immediate problems right now: (1)selling the passed health care reform program so voters know what kicks in immediately and what benefits may take a while to kick in, and — last but most assuredly not least — (2)being able to point to substantive progress on the economy.
And no matter how many bonuses they’re getting on Wall Street, no matter what kind of profits banks show his poll numbers will stay the same or get worse as more and more he is perceived as “owning” the bad economy unless there is progress on j-o-b-s. Here’s a CBS chart on his polling:
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.