Confidence in Obama on economy sinks to new low

Despite an improving economy and the lowest unemployment rate in six years, Americans' views of President Barack Obama's economic leadership stands at the lowest level of his presidency, according to the latest CNBC All-America Economic survey.

Just 24 percent of Americans say they are extremely or quite confident in Obama's economic policies and goals, down from 33 percent when the question was last asked in June 2013, the previous low-point of the Obama presidency. And 44 percent of the public say they have no confidence at all in the president on the economy, tied with the prior low in August 2012. (Prior surveys were conducted by the NBC/Wall Street Journal).

President Barack Obama speaking in Washington, October 2, 2014.
Jim Watson | AFP | Getty Images
President Barack Obama speaking in Washington, October 2, 2014.

The CNBC survey found the president's economic leadership lacking majority support of every single demographic group, including only 45 percent of Democrats saying they are extremely or quite confident in the president when it comes to the economy. Even those doing best in the economy have muted views of the president.

The only political saving grace for the president ahead of next month's midterm elections is that Republicans in Congress rate worse. Just 11 percent of those polled say they are extremely or quite confident in Republican policies, compared with 16 percent for congressional Democrats.

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Still, the numbers show a disconnect between the economic data and economic views of the president. Obama's support on the economy is 15 percentage points lower now than it was in August 2010, when the unemployment rate was 9.5 percent compared with just 5.9 percent now.

The CNBC survey shows slightly better views on the economy overall compared to a year ago, with 79 percent now judging the economy as fair or poor, down 5 points from a year ago. Those rating the economy as excellent or good rose 3 points. Those are depressed levels compare to a year ago, but they underscore how Americans' views on the economy are going one way while their views on Obama go in the other direction.

The survey comes in the fifth year of an economic expansion that is described by economists as at best lackluster. Median incomes have remained stagnant, wage growth has been slow and income inequality has grown. The unemployment rate has declined sharply, and more than 9.1 million of jobs have been created since jobs started rising in October 2010. But millions of Americans remain unemployed and have become so discouraged that they have stopped looking for work. Millions more are underemployed in part-time work, even though they would prefer to work full time.

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The survey shows that views on the president's economic policies are weak even among those who are doing well. For example,18 percent of the public see the economy as excellent or good. Inside this group, less than half are either extremely or quite confident in the president's economic policies. Confidence is low even for those who are most optimistic. Among those who believe their wages will rise next year, less than a third have high confidence in the president on the economy, and for those who see their home values rising in the next year, just 20 percent have strong confidence.

A little more than a quarter of those with at least $50,000 in the stock market have high confidence in the president's economic policies even though the market has risen 144 percent during the Obama presidency.

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The president's loss appears to be no one's gain. With the exception of Republicans, every demographic group gives the president higher marks on the economy than they do Democrats or Republicans in Congress, often by wide margins. For example, 24 percent of people earning $30,000 to $50,000 have confidence in his economic policies, but just 12 percent have the same view of Republicans in Congress. The same is true for independents, women and men and people of every age group.

In fact, just 23 percent of Republicans have high confidence in GOP lawmakers, or half the support that the president has among Democrats.

The survey of 805 adults was conducted Sept. 25 to 28. It has a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.