Things are looking grim for President Barack Obama and his health care reform law, but the rest of America is feeling more upbeat than it has in ages, according to a new survey. But Republicans may have a harder task than they thought taking out Democrats in the 2014 election, another poll indicates.
About 54 percent of voters disapprove of the job Obama is doing, compared to 43 percent who approve, according to a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released Wednesday, marking an all-time high disapproval rate for similar surveys. Obama first slipped underwater in his approval rating in April.
But 29 percent of those polled said the country is on the right track, versus 64 percent who say it's on the wrong track, marking an improvement since early October when just 14 percent said things were looking good and 78 percent said the opposite. That poll was likely heavily tainted by the 16-day federal government shutdown at the time.
Americans are also increasingly optimistic about their own financial situation, with 63 percent saying they are very or somewhat satisfied with it and 37 percent say they are not. That's up from January, when 55 percent said they with at least partially satisfied with their finances and 45 percent said they were not.
The poll surveyed 1,000 adults between Dec. 4-8 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.
Obama's popularity continues to take a beating thanks to his support of the Affordable Care Act, which 50 percent of voters say is a bad idea, versus 34 percent who say it's a good one, according to The Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll. And 60 percent of respondents said the law was the main factor in shaping their view of the president, whose loss of support among young and Hispanic voters has driven his overall drop in popularity.
"The president is being weighed down by one issue, his health-care law," said Fred Yang, a Democratic pollster who helped direct the poll, to The Wall Street Journal. "It's probably fair to say that as goes health care, so goes the Obama presidency for the next year."
Congress remains despised by most voters, but the improving fortunes of Republicans may have stalled, according to a new Gallup tracking poll. The GOP is viewed favorably by 32 percent of Americans - up from 28 percent during the shutdown in October - but 61 percent view them unfavorably, according to the poll released Wednesday. Democrats are more popular despite having to defend the unpopular health care law, with 42 percent of respondents saying they view the party favorably, compared to 53 who have an unfavorable opinion of it.
"Other polls have found Democrats losing a once-substantial advantage in the generic congressional ballot for the 2014 midterm elections," said Andrew Dugan, a Gallup polling analyst in a memo accompanying the poll results. "Nevertheless, Gallup finds that, overall, Americans still view the Democratic Party more favorably than the Republican Party."
The Democrats appeared to be buoyed by their ability to attract moderate voters in a greater number than Republicans, according to Gallup. About 47 percent of moderates say they have a favorable opinion of Democrats, versus just 27 percent who say the same of Republicans, something Dugan says, "may prove problematic for the GOP next year in the congressional elections."
The Gallup poll surveyed 1,031 adults between Dec. 5-8 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.