The Incredible Sinking Obama

By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone )


  • OBAMA FACES RECORD DISAPPROVAL NUMBERS: Barack Obama has been hammered by the botched rollout of the Affordable Care Act, with disapproval of his job performance reaching a career high, opposition to the new healthcare law up sharply and evidence of potential fallout in the midterm elections a year off, ABC NEWS POLLSTER GARY LANGER writes. The president's job approval rating has fallen to 42 percent in a new ABC News-Washington Post poll, down 13 percentage points this year and 6 points in the past month to match the lowest of his presidency. Fifty-five percent disapprove - a record. And 70 percent say the country's headed seriously off on the wrong track - up 13 points since May to the most in two years.
  • THE PRESIDENT'S PERSONAL IMAGE HAS SUFFERED: President Obama is also at career lows for being a strong leader (down by 15 points this year and a vast 31 points below its peak shortly after he took office), understanding the problems of average Americans and being honest and trustworthy - numerically under water on each of these, LANGER notes . Just 41 percent rate him as a good manager; 56 percent think not. And fewer than half - 46 percent - see him favorably overall, down 14 points this year to the fewest of his presidency. Fifty-two percent now view him unfavorably, a new high and a majority for the first time since he took office.
  • OBAMACARE'S MOST NEGATIVE RATING TO DATE: Americans by nearly 2-1, 63-33 percent, disapprove of Obama's handling of implementation of the new health care law. And the public by 57-40 percent now opposes the law overall, with opposition up by 8 points in the past month alone. Fifty-six percent describe the cancellation of health insurance policies that are deemed substandard under the law as "mismanagement" rather than a normal startup problem. Given the breakdown of the website, a broad 71 percent favor postponing the individual mandate requiring nearly all Americans to have coverage. And the mandate's still widely unpopular in any case; 65 percent of Americans oppose it - a majority of them, strongly. Notably, even among those who support the individual mandate, 55 percent favor delaying it.


ABC's RICK KLEIN: Can a Website wreck a presidency? The botched Obamacare rollout has blown a hole through the middle of President Obama's support, all in the month after the Republican Party seemed to ruin its own image over a government shutdown and debt showdown. It's a staggering turnabout - a new low of 42 percent on his approval rating, and career lows on the attributes (honest and trustworthy, strong leadership) that have buoyed his public career. Most troubling, perhaps, is that Obama has lost the support of independents, where his approval rating is down to 33 percent. His steepest loss in approval rating is among young adults under age 30 - one reason Mitt Romney comes out barely ahead, 49-45, in a hypothetical year-after rematch. And down the ballot, look out: Support for Obamacare makes voters more likely to oppose a particular candidate, 31-25, even in the states the president just carried a year ago.

ABC's JEFF ZELENY: No poll comes as a surprise to President Obama, given that the White House polling operation remains one of the most robust in the city. Yet even though he's not surprised, the findings of the latest ABC News-Washington Post survey are sobering for Democrats. The 42 percent approval rating in today's poll is not even the most alarming number for the West Wing. If the president hopes to regain credibility and restore confidence, this is the data point that is the most worrisome: 7 in 10 Americans believe the country is headed seriously on the wrong track, which is up 13 points in the last six months. And that explains why every Democrat on the ballot next year is sweating.

ABC's MICHAEL FALCONE: "I really just would like to be there, I would like to see Mitt there. There are so many things that I would like to have seen been addressed right now," Ann Romney recently told CNN when asked how she feels about not being in the White House right now. Turns out, she's not alone. If the 2012 presidential election were being held today instead of just over a year ago, 49 percent of registered voters would lean toward supporting Mitt Romney compared to 45 percent who would back President Obama, according to today's ABC News-Washington Post poll. The change of heart on the part of some voters is no doubt driven by the angst - and anger - over the problem-plagued rollout of the Affordable Care Act. In fact, the poll shows that in the states that backed Mitt Romney in 2012, Americans by a 46 to 15 percent margin, say they're more inclined to oppose than to support a candidate who favors the law - a troublesome data point for vulnerable Democrats in 2014.

ABC's ABBY PHILLIP: Public support for same sex marriage is at an all-time high according to a recent Gallup poll, the Supreme Court invalidated parts of the Defense of Marriage Act earlier this year, and more states than ever recognize same sex marriages. Yet the Republican Party remains torn by a conservative Christian base that's still very much powerful and the desire to appeal to younger, less socially ideological voters. Ultimately, however, what made Liz Cheney's public disagreement with her sister Mary Cheney so surprising is that the political necessity of today appears to have outweighed the power of her personal relationships. "We are reaching the point where there are a lot of people out there who are simply finding it rather incredible that-when an individual who is extremely close to someone who is in a same sex marriage-that that person would oppose legal same sex marriage," said Liz Mair, a Republican communications consultant who is affiliated with the Freedom to Marry campaign. When Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, announced earlier this year that he supported same sex marriage, it was because of the influence of his gay college-aged son. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., is a rare House Republican supporter of same sex marriage; her daughter is a transgender LGBT activist. In the end Cheney's remarks may not have been a departure from Republican dogma, but it surprised many who expected her to take the public view of her own father, who supports same sex marriage in light of her sister Mary's marriage.


ANOTHER EARLY SIGN OF PROBLEMS WITH OBAMACARE ROLLOUT. A document uncovered by Congressional investigators indicates that senior administration officials at the White House and Department of Health and Human Services were made aware of the concerns about meeting the October 1 launch date and the inability of developers to complete end to end testing as early as March during presentations conducted at the request of the administration by McKinsey & Co., ABC's JOHN PARKINSON notes. The Energy and Commerce Committee's investigation into the rollout of the health care law has uncovered documents showing Secretary Sebelius received this briefing on April 4, but two weeks later on April 18 she testified at the Energy and Commerce Committee that development was "on track and the contracts have been led and we are monitoring it every step along the way…I can tell you we are on track."

CHRIS CHRISTIE ON WHO CAN BEAT HILLARY CLINTON IN 2016. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, in an almost 40-minute question and answer session at a forum sponsored by the Wall Street Journal in Washington, was asked by a CEO in the audience what it would take for a Republican to beat Hillary Clinton and if he could do it, ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE notes. He answered that he has "no idea" if he can, but described the candidate that he believes would be successful. "I think we have to stop as a party to all the tried and true ways of running these kinds of campaigns. They aren't working and we need someone who will be clear, direct, authentic and say what they think," Christie, who will take over as head of the Republican Governors Association later this week, said. Christie also said he doesn't feel like he has "to do any fence mending" within his own party, who have expressed concern he may not be conservative enough. "I'm going be me and if I ever decide to run for anything again and being me isn't good enough then fine I'll go home. This isn't my whole life," he said.

-CHRISTIE VS. CRUZ: As for the government shutdown, Gov. Christie said "both sides" were to blame, but as for his own party said, "I think there were a number of people in Congress on the Republican side of the aisle who just did not have an end-game strategy." When asked if he was referring to Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who like Christie may also have possible presidential ambitions, he declined to name names, but said in his direct style, "Since Obamacare is still currently being funded and the government is reopened maybe I'm too cynical, but it appears to me the strategy of defunding it by closing the government failed."

GOP BLOCKADE OF OBAMA'S JUDICIAL NOMINEES CONTINUES. Another vote on a judicial nominee, another filibuster by Senate Republicans. For the third time in just as many weeks, Republicans filibustered another one of President Obama's nominees to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, ABC's ARLETTE SAENZ reports. The Senate voted 53-38 last night on a procedural vote on the nomination of Robert Wilkins to serve on the D.C. Circuit Court, falling short of invoking cloture by seven votes. Over the past three weeks, Senate Republicans have stopped all nominations to fill the three vacant seats on the 11-person D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing that the court's caseload is very light. In previous weeks, the Senate failed to move onto the nominations of Nina Pillard and Patricia Millett to the D.C. Circuit Court. Senate Democrats are frustrated with Republican efforts to prevent the president from appointing judges, and some have warned of a change coming to Senate rules.

DICK CHENEY DEFENDS LIZ CHENEY IN GAY MARRIAGE FAMILY FEUD. Former Vice President Dick Cheney waded into a spat between his daughters, Liz Cheney and Mary Cheney, who is openly gay, saying that Liz's kindness to her sister shouldn't be used to "distort" her position supporting "traditional marriage." One day after the two sisters took their disagreement public, Cheney and his wife, Lynne, issued a statement defending their daughter Liz, who is running for Senate in Wyoming, ABC's ABBY PHILLIP writes. "Liz has always believed in the traditional definition of marriage," the Cheneys said in a statement. "She has also always treated her sister and her sister's family with love and respect, exactly as she should have done. "Compassion is called for, even when there is disagreement about such a fundamental matter and Liz's many kindnesses shouldn't be used to distort her position," they added. The statement made no mention of Mary Cheney, 44, or her wife, Heather Poe, who issued a bruising statement on Facebook last weekend, which suggested that her sister-in-law welcomed their relationship privately. Liz Cheney, who is challenging the Republican incumbent Sen. Mike Enzi of Wyoming in 2014, said on Fox News Sunday that she and her sister "disagree" on the issue of gay marriage. "I do believe it's an issue that's got to be left up to states," Liz Cheney said. "I do believe in the traditional definition of marriage."


THE TEA PARTY'S BATMAN AND ROBIN: MIKE LEE ON HIS POLITICAL PARTNERSHIP WITH TED CRUZ. If Ted Cruz were Batman, Mike Lee would be his Robin. That's the description some have used to characterize the political partnership between Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah. Asked about the comparison during a recent visit to Iowa, Lee told "The Fine Print's" JEFF ZELENY that Cruz is a political "kindred spirit." "I told him, 'If you do decide to run, I'll of course have to endorse you, because I think you and I are, politically speaking, kindred spirits, and I'd love to have you as a colleague,'" Lee recalled from his first meeting with Cruz in 2010, when the Texan was considering a run for the Senate. The Tea Party duo stood side-by-side this fall in pushing a hard-line stance against the president's health care law that resulted in the government shutdown, and infuriated many of their Republican colleagues along the way. Lee confirmed that he and Cruz have come under attack from the Republican establishment in recent months but said there were "legitimate differences of opinion" within the party that "need to be expressed." "The differences themselves are needed," Lee said. "You don't get to be $17 trillion in debt without a lot of people agreeing."


THE ROLE OF FEDERALISM IN HYDRAULIC FRACTURING, a forum presented by the Law and Economics Center at George Mason School of Law, includes an impressive panel of experts. "Today's discussion is being held as part of the Eighth Annual Judicial Symposium on Civil Justice Issues. The topic is particularly timely given the recent vote in Colorado to ban the practice and debates around the country about how to reap its economic benefits while respecting the wishes of residents. Those interested are required to register here for panelist bios and previous work. The webcast of the panel will be today, starting at 10:15am."


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