Obama's job approval rating has tumbled by 5 percentage points in less than three weeks, the survey showed. In the weakest showing of his five-year tenure, just 42 percent of Americans approve of the president's job performance, while 51 disapprove.
The poll underscores the fact that Obama and his GOP adversaries have been hit by what NBC/WSJ pollster Bill McInturff called a public opinion "shock wave" this fall. Obama's personal favorability declined to the weakest point of his presidency—41 percent positive, 45 percent negative. And pluralities of 38 percent and 41 percent said the shutdown made them feel less favorably about Democrats in Congress and Obama, respectively.
Peter Hart, the Democratic pollster who conducts the survey with Republican McInturff, also pointed to Obama's uncertain handling of the conflict in Syria and controversy over National Security Agency surveillance. "Personally and politically," Hart concluded of the president's standing, "the public assessment is two thumbs down."
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Republicans in Congress continued to face fallout of their own, with 53 percent of poll respondents saying the recent government shutdown made them feel less favorably toward GOP lawmakers on Capitol Hill. The Republican Party received its weakest favorability rating in the quarter-century history of the NBC/WSJ poll, with just 22 percent expressing positive views and 53 negative views.
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Across the board, Hart concluded, "these events have sapped the American spirit." Fully 70 percent of Americans called the nation "off on the wrong track," compared with just 22 percent who say it is "headed in the right direction."
Obama's challenges with the health-care law have compounded the damage. By 40 percent to 9 percent, Americans said recent news has made them less confident about the law rather than more confident. While just 24 percent say the law should be "totally eliminated"—a core Republican demand—28 percent say it needs "a major overhaul."
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