Even Dems Lose Faith In Obama's Economics

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In a portentous development for President Obama's favorability, the bottom has fallen out of the base of support that has kept his overall ratings buoyant throughout his term.

Most stunning, according to the latest IBD/TIPP Poll, is a sudden, steep decline in Democrats' opinion of the way the president is handling the economy. Only 37% gave him an A or B this month compared with 51% in July.

The new reading is especially significant because 50% is the dividing line between positive and negative.

Before July's 51%, until then the lowest of the president's term, though still positive, the average among Democrats giving him good grades was 59%. So this month's rating represents a 37% drop.

Obama has also hit new lows among those rating him A or B on "managing the federal budget" (39% vs. 50% in July) and "creating jobs and economic growth" (35% vs. 45%).

These percentages are consistent with the large August drops in broader IBD/TIPP indexes that gauge economic optimism and the direction of the country.

The Economic Optimism Index fell 13.5% to an all-time low of 35.8 in August, with Democrats knifing through 50.0 for the first time. The overall Direction of the Country Index plummeted 28.3% to 22.8 with Democrats diving 38% to 31.1.

Once again, however, opinions of Obama's overall performance remained little changed. Fully 65% of Democrats give him good grades for "overall performance"vs. 66% in July. For the last year and a half, the percentage has ranged from 62% to 80%.

And among Republicans and Independents, those giving him an A or B actually ticked up, but still within the margin of error, to 8% for the former and 27% for the latter.

This has been the pattern throughout Obama's presidency: No matter how poor his grades are in specific areas, such as the economy or foreign policy, he gets good grades for "overall" performance.

But it's always been the better grades handed out by Democrats that have kept him there. The question now is whether the latest drops among Democrats in areas such as the economy will begin to drag down his overall numbers.

"It's like a game of chess," said Raghavan Mayur, president of TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence, IBD's polling partner. "You take pawn after pawn after pawn, and you eventually get the king. The latest declines could be "the first step prior to a bigger slide," he believes.

The IBD/TIPP Poll of 921 adults was taken July 31-Aug. 4.

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