President Barack Obama has now hit a major danger zone: a new CNN poll finds that more independent voters disapprove of Obama than approve of him — and his biggest failing grades are on the economy, taxes, the budget and health care:
A majority of independent voters disapprove of how Barack Obama’s handling his job as president, according to a new national poll.
Fifty-three percent of independents questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Tuesday say they disapprove of how Obama’s handling his duties in the White House, with 43 percent in approval. That result marks the first time in a CNN poll that a majority of independents give the president’s performance a thumbs-down.
Obama’s overall approval rating of 53 percent is down 3 points from a month ago, and down 8 points from June. Forty-five percent of those questioned disapprove, up 5 points from a month ago and up 8 points from June.
According to the poll, nine in 10 Democrats approve of the job Obama’s doing, up three points from a month ago, with 15 percent of Republicans approving, down 8 points.
“Obama won a majority of the vote among independents last year, and that helped put him in the White House,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. “Losing their support makes it more difficult for Obama to govern from the center.”
And, as we had often said here during the Bush years, it is difficult for a President who wants to be successful to be mainly a President of the base. Obama can’t afford to lose independent voters.
The question debated by partisans then becomes: who are the independent voters. Some say they are former Democrats. Others say the independent voter ranks have swollen in recent years by former GOPers who were disgusted by the Bush administration and its brand of Republicanism. And then there are partisans on both sides who consider independents wishy washy, bland people who don’t take passionate stands (wrong as several books and election results point out).
But the bottom line is that Obama needs them because as his independent voter support erodes, so does some of his clout. More from the poll:
Broken down by issues, the president still gets majority support on foreign affairs and terrorism, but a majority now disapprove of how he has handled health care, taxes, the economy and the budget deficit.
According to the poll, Obama’s approval rating on how he is handling the war in Afghanistan also fell 18 points since March.
Not good news for the White House.
But now Obama is back from vacation. Are we going to see a new burst of energy from him that will once again spark commentaries about how Obama could be the new FDR or Ronald Reagan? Or will he continue as he is now — raising fears that he could turn out to be another Jimmy Carter?
At this point, given his declining polls and increased political problems, the words “transformational President” are being used less and less about Obama. Will this trend continue — or is he about to enter into a new rebounding phase?
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.