New Poll Numbers Reinforce Bush-Obama Comparisons

by Stuart Rothenberg August 7, 2014 · 9:31 AM EDT

My last column, which argued President Barack Obama’s situation going into his second midterm closely resembled President George W. Bush’s standing going into his second midterm, is reinforced in a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

When I filed the column on Monday, I used the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll results from June, since it was the most recent poll available at that time. It showed Obama’s job ratings at 41 percent approve/53 percent disapprove. The new survey, conducted July 30-August 3, showed Obama’s approval at 40 percent, with 54 percent disapproving of his performance.

Since Bush’s late July 2006 job ratings stood at 39 percent approve/56 percent disapprove, the new Obama numbers bear an even more uncomfortably close resemblance to Bush’s.

As I noted in the column, foreign policy has become a significant problem for the president — and therefore for his party — in the midterms.

The new NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey found Obama’s job performance on foreign policy as a weak 36 percent approve/60 percent disapprove — by far his worst numbers in that area.

The generic ballot on the congressional elections remains generally unchanged. One party or the other has generally been up by a point or, at most, two, and this month it’s the GOP that has a 1-point advantage. But the sample is registered voters, which almost certainly understates the GOP’s advantage among likely voters in November.

While Congress — and Republicans in Congress — remain unpopular, the bad news for the president in the survey continues to raise the possibility the midterms will be more “about” President Obama than about anyone or anything else.