- - Tuesday, November 19, 2013

President Obama and the Democrats woke up Tuesday morning to the stunning headline that his approval ratings have plunged to the “lowest point” in his presidency.

Even worse, polls showed he was losing support among his party’s political base, which has become increasingly disenchanted and divided over his trouble-plagued health insurance law, not to mention his terrible performance in a job-starved, anemic economy.

In the past month, Mr. Obama’s job-disapproval score has shot up to 63 percent among independents, and up to 50 percent among self-described moderates, two of the key swing voter blocs that helped him win a second term.

Opposition to his health care law has soared to a record high of 57 percent, with 46 percent saying they’re “strongly against it,” according to The Washington Post’s latest poll. Still, his failing grades from voters run even deeper than this: 63 percent disapprove of his handling of the bungled, widely unpopular health care program, up from 53 percent last month.

At the same time, a growing number of Americans see him an incompetent chief executive who’s out of touch with his administration and the policies he has championed. “For the first time in Obama’s presidency, a bare majority of Americans, 52 percent, say they have an unfavorable impression of him,” the newspaper reported.

“Half or more now say he is not a strong leader, does not understand the problems of ‘people like you,’ and is not honest and trustworthy,” the survey found.

These sharply declining numbers are not just the result of the collapse of Obamacare in in the past several weeks. They have been on a downward slide all year. Among registered voters, perceptions of Mr. Obama as a strong leader have fallen 15 points since January and 12 points on questions of honesty and trustworthiness.

His overall approval score has dropped to 42 percent, down 6 points in a month, with his disapproval rating at 55 percent. Other polls, such as Gallup, showed his approval rating falling to near 40 percent. A Quinnipiac University survey, among others, has it slipping into the 30s.

The bleak political reality that was slowly dawning on his top White House advisers is that Mr. Obama’s numbers are not going to be turned around anytime soon by a quick fix of Obamacare.

Administration insiders tell reporters that the healthcare.gov software’s obstacle-plagued, online application program will not be fixed by the latest deadline at the end of this month. Early applications were embarrassingly minuscule — 106,000 — when tens of millions of beneficiaries, including younger, healthy people, are needed to make the government-run program financially viable.

Worsening the White House’s troubles was the president’s flip-flop to let individuals buy insurance policies without the costly, new benefits the law prescribes. Most of the states’ regulators rebelled, saying they were not sure their state laws would allow them to do that.

“Honestly, it’s just a big mess right now … . I don’t know what to tell people,” said Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger.

Meantime, the president’s party is coming apart at the seams on Capitol Hill, as vulnerable Democrats who voted for Obamacare and are up for re-election next year fear a massive political backlash against them from angry voters.

House Republicans seized on their opportunity last week to bring up a bill that would allow Americans to keep their canceled insurance policies. Senior White House advisers held hastily called, closed-door meetings with Democrats, pleading with them to stand firm behind Obamacare.

When the roll was called, 39 skittish House Democrats abandoned Mr. Obama and voted for the Republican-sponsored bill, which went much further than the president’s temporary, one-year reprieve.

Story Continues →