Worth Discussing

The Political Climate Halfway Through 2013

Luke Frans | July 1, 2013

President Obama faces an increasingly difficult political climate upon his return from Africa this week. The direction of the country has soured in recent months and his job approval rating is worsening due in part to the string of scandals (IRS investigations, reporter surveillance, and Benghazi timeline) and the seemingly endless drip of negative stories detailing the implementation woes of his health care law. Presidents typically receive a public opinion boost after foreign travel, but with political headwinds intensifying in June, the past is not necessarily prologue.

Right Direction / Wrong Track
The American public is more pessimistic about the direction of the country today than during the lead up to the presidential election, according to a monthly average of polls from Real Clear Politics. Last November the right direction percentage peaked at an average of 41.3 percent with the wrong track falling to 53.1 percent. By the end of June, the right direction / wrong track difference increased from -11.8 to -28.8.

President Obama Approval Rating
President Obama began his second term with a healthy job approval rating, consistently above 50 percent. Since that point, his performance rating has steadily declined, according to a monthly average of polls from Real Clear Politics. After leveling in March and April, President Obama’s job rating flipped in May (48.3 percent disapproval to 47.6 percent approval) and the negative trend widened to -3.1 in the 19 polls released in June (48.9 percent disapproval to 45.8 percent approval). 

President Obama Approval Rating - Health Care
A majority of respondents disapproves of President Obama's handling of health care according to recent public polling.

Health Care Reform Law
From last November to June, Gallup found a net 11-point negative swing away from the health care law. Opposition among respondents overall (52 to 44 percent) mirrors that of Independents (53 to 41 percent). By greater than 2-to-1, Independents believe the law will have a negative impact on their family’s health care (43 to 19 percent).

In the June NBC/WSJ poll, 49 percent of Americans believe the health care law is a bad idea, while only 37 percent say it's a good idea. This is the highest negative percentage in this survey since 2009. Moreover, the survey found the following:

  • Intensity favors those opposed to the law. Those who feel strongly the law is a bad idea hold a 43 to 28 percent advantage.
  • 38 percent say their families will be worse off – another record high in this survey.
  • 39 percent say the new law will not make much of a difference.
  • Only 1 in 5 say their family will be better off because of the law.

In Bloomberg’s June survey, 62 percent expect health care costs to be worse in the next year. Compared to several other economic indicators, this response is second only to the size of the national debt (65 percent).

By 53 to 33 percent, Americans believe those opposed to the health care law “should continue trying to change or stop it, so it has less impact on taxpayers, employers, and health care providers” according to the April Kaiser Foundation survey.

Filed under: Political Climate, President Obama, and Health Care