Obama’s loss is not the GOP’s gain

The latest Washington Post/ABC News poll, at first blush, offers nothing but bad news for President Obama. His approval rating is down once again, and support for his handling on key issues keeps slipping further.

But as we’ve seen before, there’s a silver lining for the White House: the public is dissatisfied with Republicans much more.

Obama’s overall approval rating slipped from 47 percent before the debt-ceiling debate to 42 percent now, with 54 percent disapproving of his job performance. A record low 35 percent approve of Obama’s handling of the economy.

But the president’s new jobs package, which is supported by a narrow majority of the public, has bolstered his position on the issue. He now holds a 49 to 34 percent advantage over congressional Republicans when it comes to the public’s trust on creating jobs. That is a change from September, when they were evenly split at 40 percent each.

If Republicans think they’re winning the legislative fight, persuading people the president is on the wrong track, they’re mistaken. Not only does the American mainstream trust Obama more on job creation, but a majority supports the American Jobs Act, which the GOP refuses to even consider, and believes it would help the economy.

Americans also aren’t buying the Republican line on tax policy — a whopping 75% of the country supports raising taxes on millionaires and billionaires. It looks like class warfare is pretty popular.

And asked who cares more about protecting the middle class, Obama tops the GOP by 20 points, 52% to 32%.

As for Congress’ approval rating, support has dropped to a dismal 14%, the lowest since the poll starting asking the question in the mid-1970s.

Here’s a tip for congressional leaders: you can bring up the institution’s approval rating by working with the White House and approving a jobs bill.

But therein lies the rub: Republicans don’t much care. GOP leaders not only don’t want to boost the economy, they also aren’t terribly concerned with improving Congress’ public standing. On the contrary, Republicans seem to believe they should keep this up, turn Americans against their own public institutions, and create conditions in which voters hate everyone and give up on government altogether. The scorched-earth strategy, they figure, should even be enough to bring down Obama’s presidency.

Time will tell if this effort pays off for the radicalized Republican Party, but if the president was eager to run for re-election by running against Washington dysfunction, a do-nothing Congress, and a GOP that’s given up on trying to solve problems, Republican lawmakers are making his task significantly easier.