Passage of Major Legislation Can't Stop Obama's Poll Numbers From Dropping

A still-struggling economy could be to blame for Obama's polling problems

July 15, 2010, 4:58 PM

July 16, 2010— -- Some Democrats are grumbling that the public is not giving President Barack Obama enough credit for all he has accomplished in such a short period of time.

The latest ABC News/Washington Post poll found that President Obama's job approval rating has slipped to just 50 percent, with 47 percent disapproving. Fifty-one percent of those polled would rather have Republicans run Congress "to act as a check on Obama's policies," versus 43 percent who want to keep Democrats in charge.

But Democrats argue that the public's perception of Obama should be higher considering that 18 months into his presidency, he has chalked up a number of big achievements, including an $862 billion stimulus bill that many economist say staved off a depression.

They also note that Obama was able to get a major overhaul of America's health care system through Congress this past March and just Thursday was able to pass the biggest reform to Wall Street and the nation's financial system since right after the Great Depression.

But the president's ability to pass major pieces of legislation have, in some ways, been overshadowed by the rising unemployment figures that continue to draw banner headlines and the attention of the public.

"The stimulus, if the job numbers [aren't] moving, that bill has not done its job," said Ann Seltzer, of the polling firm Seltzer & Co.

It is that sentiment that has helped send the president's approval ratings down when it comes to his handling of the economy. The latest ABC News/Washington Post poll found that only 43 percent of American people approve of his handling of the economy, down seven percent from June. Meanwhile, 54 percent disapprove, a new high.

"Accomplishments on paper are one thing," Seltzer said. "It's the change in real life that people aren't seeing. They're still looking at unemployment numbers that appear to be intractable."

And on top of a still floundering economy, other pundits have argued that Obama is being hurt by the fact that his three big achievements were passed on almost entirely party-line votes and came after compromises and fierce debate.

The stimulus bill and health care legislation remain controversial, while Wall Street reform is so complicated that people still aren't sure what is really in it and what it means for them.

It is an issue Vice President Joe Biden even acknowledged to "This Week" in an exclusive interview to air Sunday.

"The financial industry spent hundreds of millions of dollars lobbying against this," said Biden. "All this is, is rational control and the turning around of what the Republicans did, which is let Wall Street run wild.

"When you say to people, 'You know, we just went out and had a regulatory reform bill,'" Biden said, "where I come from its like, 'OK, what does that mean?' They don't know what it means yet, understandably."

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