Presidents seldom win political points when Americans believe the country is in trouble and Washington politics is an embarrassment. In the post shutdown environment, euphoric Capitol Democratic leaders have been celebrating their good fortune of defeating Senator Ted Cruz and House Republicans after the Obamacare showdown.
But, the President’s approval, which had been in the doldrums since its high between his re-election (52%) and inauguration (50%), has taken another hit in the latest budget crisis. Obama’s average approval is at 44.5 percent for the July to October quarter as measured by Gallup.
It has declined steadily since the beginning of 2013. The average from January to April 2013 slipped to 48 percent, a period which included gun control, immigration reform and the sequester.
In the last three months, along with the long and mostly fruitless discussions around the budget and the Affordable Care Act, the President dealt with Syria, which arrived at a preferred result, but haphazardly in public opinion terms. During the budget confrontation, his October approval rating dropped as low as 41 percent. The last time his approval was that low was at the weak start of his re-election campaign in November 2011.
Obama’s approval is near President George W. Bush’s in October 2005 (43.9%) when Bush was dealing with Hurricane Katrina. Recall the 2006 midterm was a disaster for Republicans.
Although Democrats clearly got a boost from the October budget and shutdown, the President may be of no help to their partisan aspirations in 2014 and have limited clout to move any of his agenda in the remainder of 2013.
And, of course, that is not considering Obamacare, which appears to be an ongoing political burden for the President and his party.