Poll after poll has charted President Obama’s dipping approval rating in recent months, but Wednesday brought perhaps the cruelest cut to date: A new Quinnipiac University survey found that voters rate Mr. Obama as the country’s worst president since World War II.
With Mr. Obama deploying troops to Iraq, failing to find compromise with Congress and seeing major defeats in the Supreme Court, voters continue to sour on him. The new poll also revealed that more voters now say GOP nominee Mitt Romney would have been a better choice in 2012.
Quinnipiac found 45 percent of voters say the country would have been better off if Mr. Romney had been elected, while just 38 percent say Mr. Obama remains a better choice. Even Democrats aren’t so sure — just 74 percent of them told the pollsters Mr. Obama was clearly the better pick in the last election.
Voters also rated the man who swept into office in 2009 with a promise of “hope and change” as worse than even his predecessor, Republican President George W. Bush, who left office with terrible approval ratings.
“Over the span of 69 years of American history and 12 presidencies, President Barack Obama finds himself with President George W. Bush at the bottom of the popularity barrel,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.
A Zogby Analytics Poll released Wednesday also found Mr. Obama slipping — in that survey, to 44 percent approval, while his disapproval jumped 4 percentage points from last month to reach 54 percent.
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Nearly half of voters told the Zogby poll that Mr. Obama is “unable to lead the country.”
White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Mr. Obama still has the ability to lead America, whatever the polls say.
“There’s no doubt the president has the leadership and stature necessary to call upon the American public to rally around the kinds of ideas that are in the best interests of the country,” he said.
But in his sixth year in office, Mr. Obama has turned increasingly to executive action to attack his policy goals, thereby mocking congressional Republicans for failing to work with him. On Tuesday, he ridiculed GOP efforts to rein in his executive powers with the threat of a lawsuit.
“As long as they’re doing nothing, I’m not going to apologize for trying to do something,” Mr. Obama said.
The president said this week that Americans are “extraordinarily cynical about Washington right now,” and the Quinnipiac survey shows that assessment is hurting Mr. Obama. A full 54 percent of voters believe the Obama administration is not competent at doing its primary job of running the government.
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On overall job approval, Mr. Obama is upside-down by 13 points, with only 40 percent approving and 53 percent disapproving. That’s a 5 point slide since April.
The public doesn’t trust his handling of the economy (40 percent approval) or foreign policy (37 percent approval).
As much as voters are down on President Obama, the star of former President Ronald Reagan continues to soar. The two-term California Republican was rated as the best of the 12 presidents who have served since Franklin Delano Roosevelt by 35 percent of the voters polled by Quinnipiac, just short of twice the number of second-place Bill Clinton at 18 percent. John Kennedy came in third in the “best category” at 15 percent and Mr. Obama was fourth at 8 percent. No other chief executive got above 5 percent support.
In the “worst” competition, Mr. Obama barely edged out Mr. Bush, with 33 percent rating the incumbent the worst president of the post-World War II era to 28 percent for Mr. Bush. Richard Nixon, who in the wake of the Watergate scandal became the only president in history to resign the office, was a distant third at 13 percent, and Jimmy Carter was fourth at 8 percent.
Just 3 percent of the Quinnipiac respondents rated Reagan as the worst of the 12 chief executives.