It's taken nearly two months of Obamacare website disasters and presidential flip-flopping on his namesake health care program to do it, but President Obama's fumbling has become his “Katrina” moment, according to a new analysis.
“These have been difficult weeks for the president, but it needs to be understood how potentially consequential these weeks could be on the arc of his presidency,” said pollster Bill McInturff. “As the weeks have passed since that late October track, it is even easier to see the parallels to the post Katrina period as the president's job approval ratings, personal favorable ratings, and key attitudinal measures have all dropped,” he finds in the new analysis of poll data.
His report, “President Obama and the dreaded ‘K-word: Katrina,’” finds that the Obamacare problems have started to eat at Obama’s polls, even his personal favorability, which in the past has remained high despite low approval ratings.
“A ‘Katrina moment’ means not just a job and personal approval rating change, it also means a significant drop in personal attributes, like trust and leadership, all of which are so significant it helps the other party in the generic vote,” McInturff told Secrets. “Once the website problems were compounded with a sense the president’s promise about keeping your coverage if you like it did not happen, it’s eroded his personal standing in a way that will have longer term consequences.”
McInturff, co-founder of Public Opinion Strategies and who teams with Democratic pollster Peter Hart to conduct the Wall Street Journal/NBC polls, said that in several key polling categories, Obama’s numbers are similar to those of former President George W. Bush after he tripped in the aftermath of the 2005 Katrina storm in the Gulf of Mexico.
“The history is not yet written for President Obama’s second term, but the president is facing perilous numbers,” he said in the new analysis. “When a president’s ratings drop on core attributes like honesty and leadership, the underpinnings of their personal and job approval ratings are in significant jeopardy,” he said.
What's more, it's impacting other Democrats up for election in 2014. “Midterm elections are almost always a referendum on the president with a direct connection between low job approval ratings and the incumbent party absorbing significant losses. Democrats beware,” said McInturff.
His analysis came as Rasmussen Reports released a poll that found Obamacare at it’s most unpopular point ever and several other polls showing that the president’s approval numbers are at or near their lowest ever.
“Once unleashed, these negative sentiments are difficult to reverse and correct, but this is consistent with the past experience of other presidents whose presidencies have absorbed this type of consequential – and negative – event,” said McInturff.
“Our experience through the years would tell us it is going to get worse, not better, for the president in the days and weeks ahead,” he added.Paul Bedard, The Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.