President Barack Obama’s image has been remarkably unscathed by the steady stream of new scandals that have plagued the White House over the past few weeks, including the IRS’ targeting of conservative groups, the Justice Department’s investigation of reporters, and new revelations about Benghazi.
According to a slew of new polls that have been taken in the past four days, Obama’s approval rating has remained constant, and in some cases risen, even as the public continues to pay careful attention to the scandals.
The lastest good news for Obama was a new Washington Post/ABC poll released Tuesday, which put his approval rating at 51 per cent, his best mark in the survey since January.
That followed a CNN poll released Sunday that showed 53 per cent of respondents approve of Obama’s job performance, up 2 points from April and 6 points from March. And Obama’s approval rating reached a peak of 51 per cent in Gallup’s daily tracking poll on Saturday, holding steady at 49 per cent on Monday.
Obama’s mark in the CNN poll presents a stark contrast with that of the Republican Party, which saw its approval ratings tank to their lowest point ever in the survey.
The New York Times’ statistical guru Nate Silver writes that what might be saving Obama’s approval ratings is the improved outlook on the economy — which a recent Pew Research poll found still measured as more important than any of the three “scandals.”
There is evidence to support Silver’s theory. In the Washington Post/ABC poll, Obama’s approval rating on handling the economy jumped up to 48 per cent, also his best mark since January. More people than ever — 56 per cent — say that in terms of their personal experiences, the economy has begun to recover.
And 51 per cent say Obama focuses on issues important to them personally, compared to just 33 per cent who say the same about Congressional Republicans.
Here’s a chart that puts those numbers in perspective:
Langer ResearchHowever, Obama does have reason to be concerned by some of the numbers in the surveys.
According to the Pew poll, for example, a plurality of respondents believe that the Obama administration was somehow involved in the IRS’ targeting of conservative-sounding groups.
A plurality also disapproves of the Justice Department’s obtaining phone numbers of Associated Press journalists, a number that could rise after renewed attention to the FBI’s investigation of a Fox News reporter in a leak investigation.
Finally, in the WaPo/ABC survey, 55 per cent of respondents believe that the Obama administration is “trying to cover up the facts” about Benghazi, compared with just 33 per cent who say it is “honestly disclosing what it knows.”
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