Things have never really looked worse for President Obama when it comes to his personal approval rating by the American public. What started out with so much promise, has faltered.
According to Real Clear Politics, polling data from 11 polls taken over the period from January 12 to 26th, 2014, questioning voters regarding their approval of the President's performance, rather overwhelming show that the negative spread between his approval (in black) and disapproval (in red) ratings are just below all-time highs as shown on this graph:
Right now, the Real Clear Politics average shows that 43.6 percent of Americans polled approve of the job that the current President is doing and 51.6 percent disapprove for a spread of -8.0 percentage points. Looking through the entire list of polls, there is only one poll since the beginning of the New Year that shows a positive spread and that was a measly +1 percentage point. In the worst case, the negative spread was -15 percentage points for the Economist/YouGov poll taken during the second week of January.
Here is closeup of the chart showing the spread with positive spreads in black (approvals outweigh disapprovals) and negative spreads in red (disapprovals outweigh approvals):
During the first week of December 2013, the net negative approval hit a peak of -15.6 percentage points with only 40 percent of Americans approving of the President's performance and 55.6 percent disapproving. To this point in time, that was the nadir of the President's publicly perceived performance. Since then, things have improved, but not to the point where one would conclude that his performance is being viewed as "passable". It is also important to note that not only is this most recent negative approval rating the deepest, the President is experiencing the longest period of negative approval since he took office in 2009 stretching all the way back to the second week of June 2013. Unfortunately for the Democrats, the trend is showing no sign of improving any time soon.
Here is a breakdown of the President's approval rating on two key issues:
1.) Economy: Approve - 40 percent Disapprove - 56.2 percent
2.) Foreign Policy: Approve - 42.2 percent Disapprove - 48.8 percent
This has led to this poll which shows how Americans feel about the direction that the United States is taking:
An overwhelming 62.9 percent of Americans feel that the nation is heading in the wrong direction. While this seems grim, in October 2013, 74.9 percent of Americans felt that the U.S. was heading in the wrong direction compared to only 17.4 percent who felt that the nation was heading in the right direction. I found this particularly interesting, given that American voters are fairly evenly split along party lines. Obviously, all of this dissatisfaction with Washington cannot be laid at the feet of the President since dissatisfaction with the do-nothing Congresses of the past five years is rampant among voters.
It's rather hard to imagine that the public viewed their newly minted President with such optimism back in 2009. At the peak in the second week of February 2009, 65.4 percent of Americans polled viewed his performance as positive with only 22.6 percent disapproving for a net positive spread of 42.8 percentage points. What started out with the appearance of so much promise, has faltered as the reality of the plight of millions of long-term underemployed and unemployed Americans and the divisions between the haves and have-nots of American society have become increasingly apparent.