The Corner

Voters Sour on Obama, Congressional GOP

Frustration with President Obama’s policies is hurting his chances for reelection, a new poll by the right-leaning organization Resurgent Republic finds. But Congressional Republicans are also losing several key arguments in the debate over taxes and spending.

According to the survey, the president boasts a 50 percent favorability rating — the only public figure to earn a net-positive mark in that category. Nonetheless, 57 percent of Americans disapprove of his handling of the economy, and 50 percent believe his policies have made things worse. (Forty percent, meanwhile, believe they have made things better.) What’s more, 60 percent — including 34 percent of Democrats — believe Obama has proven to be a weaker president than they thought he would be.

As a result, only 43 percent would vote for Obama in 2012, while another 43 percent would vote for the Republican candidate.

“It’s hard to see how he improves his fortunes,” Resurgent Republic board member Ed Gillespie said in a conference call with reporters this morning.

At the same time, Congressional Republicans aren’t exactly popular: Fifty percent of voters have an unfavorable opinion of them. And when the poll matches opposing Democratic and Republican arguments on taxes, the GOP loses the debate. Fifty-three percent of respondents prefer the statement that “Congress needs to take a balanced approach to our debt problem by cutting spending and by asking the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations to pay their fair share.” Only 43 percent favor the opposing statement that “raising taxes during a weak economy would lead to even fewer jobs than we have now.”

In defense of the GOP, Gillespie commented, “It’s not surprising that 53 percent would say they prefer a ‘balanced approach’ to anything.”

Yet the public agrees with the GOP on a few issues. For instance, 57 percent agree that the Constitution needs a balanced-budget amendment. And when given a list of potential tax rates, 65 percent believe that the government should take no more than 20 percent of a person’s income.

Finally, the poll finds that Republican can sell entitlement reforms to the public by stressing the need to preserve those programs for future generations. Fifty-three percent favor the statement that “we can save Social Security with minor benefit adjustments for people age 55 and under, and we should do that now rather than wait until the program faces a crisis.” Only 40 percent agree with the opposing statement that “Social Security will not face budget problems until 2037, so we need to focus our attention on our immediate budget problems and leave Social Security alone.”

“[Voters] are not open to entitlement reform if the rationale is to balance the budget,” board member Whit Ayres warned the GOP.

The poll surveyed 1,000 registered voters from August 28 to August 31. The margins of error vary according to the questions, but for those questions that received strongly divided responses (50 percent one way, 50 percent another) it was 3.1 percent. For the full results, see here. And for Resurgent Republic’s summary of the results, see here.

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