Obama support still slipping, GOP still not capitalizing

OBAMA SUPPORT STILL SLIPPING, GOP STILL NOT CAPITALIZING…. Consistent with what we’ve seen in other polls, the latest survey from the Washington Post/ABC News offers some discouraging numbers for the White House. The news wasn’t all bad — the poll showed President Obama with a 57% approval rating, which is still quite high — but other key numbers have fallen off, especially when it comes to public confidence.

Public confidence in President Obama’s leadership has declined sharply over the summer, amid intensifying opposition to health-care reform that threatens to undercut his attempt to enact major changes to the system, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Among all Americans, 49 percent now express confidence that Obama will make the right decisions for the country, down from 60 percent at the 100-day mark in his presidency. Forty-nine percent now say they think he will be able to spearhead significant improvements in the system, down nearly 20 percentage points from before he took office.

As challenges to Obama’s initiatives have mounted over the summer, pessimism in the nation’s direction has risen: Fifty-five percent see things as pretty seriously on the wrong track, up from 48 percent in April.

There are some hints of optimism — half the country expects the recession to be over within the year, nearly double the number from February — but in general, the poll points to a public in a sour mood.

Specifically on health care, the public doesn’t like the president’s handling of the issue, and opponents of the Democratic plan(s) outnumber supporters. Perhaps more important, the Post noted, “Intensity is on the side of the detractors: Forty percent of all Americans strongly oppose the plans, while 27 percent are solidly behind them.”

As for the public option, the poll asked, “Would you support or oppose having the government create a new health insurance plan to compete with private health insurance plans?” Despite the right’s best efforts, a 52% majority still supports a public option, though the number is down from 62% in June. (The question did not indicate that the government-run plan would be optional.)

But despite the drop off in support for the administration, Republicans still aren’t capitalizing. Poll respondents were asked “how much confidence” they have in the various players “to make the right decisions for the country’s future.” For the president, the number was 49%. For congressional Democrats, it was 35%. And for congressional Republicans, just 21% expressed confidence in them. For those saying they have “a great deal of confidence,” Obama led GOP lawmakers, 28% to 4%. (That’s not a typo — only 4% have a lot of confidence in Republicans on the Hill.)

What’s more, while the president’s numbers have dropped — 60% confidence in April to 49% in August — Republican numbers haven’t improved at all. Confidence in the GOP is almost identical to where it was in April, with the only noticeable change coming with an uptick among those who have “no confidence at all.”

Efforts to undermine the president and his agenda are having an effect. At this point, however, it has not translated into improved standing for the Republican Party.