Obama’s Honeymoon With California Voters Over — Again

President Barack Obama, flanked by Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker John Boehner, gives the 2013 State of the Union address. (Charles Dharapak-Pool/Getty Images)
President Barack Obama, flanked by Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker John Boehner, gives the 2013 State of the Union address. (Charles Dharapak-Pool/Getty Images)

The Field Poll is releasing a new round of surveys on California voter opinion today, and the first of its studies finds increasing disapproval of President Obama.

The poll (the full results are embedded at the end of this post) shows that the president enjoys a 51 percent job approval rating among registered California voters, down from 52 percent in July and 62 percent in February. His disapproval numbers rose from 33 percent in February to 35 percent in July to 43 percent in the latest poll, which surveyed 766 voters between Nov. 14 and Dec. 1.

In the ebb and flow of presidential approval ratings, Obama is nearing the lows recorded two years ago. At his California nadir in September 2011, the Field Poll found the president with 46 percent job approval and 44 percent disapproval. Those numbers bounced back throughout the 2012 election season to the highs recorded last February. (It ought to be noted that Obama won 61 percent of the California vote in 2008 and 60 percent in 2012. The win last year came two months after the Field Poll reported a 58 percent approval rating.)

Even in the true-blue Bay Area, one in three voters disapproves of President Obama’s performance. The poll even finds the steepest drop-offs in approval occuring among some of the president’s most ardent supporters. Field Poll director Mark DiCamillo joined KQED’s Mina Kim on Tuesday to dissect the numbers and what they might mean for 2014.

The latest Field Poll numbers are moving in the same direction as the results of national polls that show Obama with the lowest approval rating of his administration. The Huffington Post’s average of national polls, below, gives Obama a 41.5 percent voter approval and 53.4 percent disapproval. CNN notes that among recent two-term presidents, Obama is ahead of George W. Bush, who had a 37 percent approval rating at this point in his second term. But he’s far behind Bill Clinton, who had a 57 percent approval rating in November 1997, and Ronald Reagan, with 65 percent in November 1985.

Obama Job Approval – Polls – HuffPost PollsterPolls and chart for Obama Job Approval. Latest estimate: Approve 41.5%, Disapprove 53.4%.

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The Field Poll found California voters expressing increasing disapproval on the administration’s handling of the health care issue, with 50 percent disapproving and 43 percent approving (when the same question was asked in March 2010, the poll found an even split at 45 percent). The poll also found sharply declining support for the president’s handling of foreign policy. Whereas the poll found very strong support for the president’s foreign policy early in his first term — 63 percent approving, 16 percent disapproving in March 2009 — the latest survey shows 49 percent approving and 40 percent disapproving. The president’s rating for his handling of the economy is virtually unchanged from three years ago, with 49 percent approving and 45 percent disapproving.

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Dan Brekke

Dan Brekke has worked in media ever since Nixon's first term, when newspapers were still using hot type. He had moved on to online news by the time Bill Clinton met Monica Lewinsky. He's been at KQED since 2007, is an enthusiastic practitioner of radio and online journalism and will talk to you about absolutely anything. Reach Dan Brekke at dbrekke@kqed.org.

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