In the middle of February, veteran Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg gave some free advice to his partys Congressional leaders via the New Republic, urging them to take a series of steps to minimize Democratic vulnerabilities (and losses) in the fall elections.
It has been four months since Greenbergs article, Disaster Relief: How to Avoid a Repeat of 1994, appeared, but there is no sign of a Democratic turnaround on the horizon only more depressing news and pessimistic public opinion data for Democrats.
The news on joblessness and the U.S. economy, combined with growing concerns over the federal deficit, Europes financial health (particularly growing debt), the lack of progress of the war in Afghanistan and the damage resulting from the BP oil gusher in the Gulf of Mexico, are burying the president and his party in an avalanche of public dissatisfaction.
As former President George W. Bush found out only a few years ago, a never-ending supply of bad news saps a presidency, and a political party, of its strength.
Voters who once felt hopeful and gave the new president the benefit of the doubt instead distrust the White Houses explanations and assume the worst. No number of high-profile speeches will reverse the decline. Only good news will, and it isnt anywhere to be found.
Greenbergs first suggestion for Democrats in February was to quickly pass a version of the Senate health care bill. That was wise advice because the alternative getting no bill at all would have been disastrous for the party.
But the highly regarded strategists prediction that passing a bill will raise presidential and Congressional approval ratings was overly optimistic.
In mid-February, when Greenbergs article appeared, Obamas job ratings stood at 49 percent approve/50 percent disapprove in a CNN poll. A month later, days before Obama signed the health care bill, the presidents poll numbers stood at 46 percent approve/51 percent disapprove, and more recently, a mid-June CNN survey found Obamas job ratings at 50 percent approve/48 percent disapprove largely unchanged from February.
Gallup had Obamas job rating at 51 percent approve/42 percent disapprove in mid-February, 50 percent approve/43 percent disapprove in mid-March and 49 percent approve/44 percent disapprove in mid-June again, largely unchanged during the period.
And the new NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey, conducted June 17-21, offers a similar picture, with the presidents job rating down to an approval of 45 percent, with more respondents disapproving of his performance for the first time in his presidency.
Congress job rating (22 percent approve/73 percent disapprove) is up a bit from the NBC News/Wall Street Journal March survey (17 percent approve/77 percent disapprove), but the institution is still held in very low esteem.