The headlines about this morning’s Pew Research survey are likely to focus on how President Obama has a much higher approval rating than Congressional Republican leaders — 51 percent to 25 percent. But there’s a bit more to find in the numbers, results that challenge the Beltway narrative of a masterful president with a huge advantage over his hapless congressional opposition.
First of all, what is the public’s top priority, by a wide margin? Deficit reduction. Well ahead of immigration, gun control, and climate change:
What’s more, the vast majority of Americans want the deficit to be brought down by spending cuts or mostly spending cuts (73 percent) rather than tax increases or mostly tax increases (19 percent). Folks, that is a consensus that reaches across the partisan divide.
While respondents say they trust the president more than congressional Republicans on a host of issues . . .
. . . they don’t actually approve of how Obama is handling most issues.
With Obama at a 51 percent job approval but in the low to mid 40s in his handling of most issues, discussion of the president should note that a certain segment of the population likes him, personally, a lot more than his policies.
Chalk it up to his appearances in non-political programming like The View, The Tonight Show, and ESPN, or chalk it up to the happy images of him spending time with Michelle and his daughters. Obama is a lot more effective at getting people to like him than at persuading them.