(Photo: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)
Several recent polls show President Barack Obama's approval rating going down, especially in his handling of the economy. The dip could be related to the many false warnings Obama and other administration officials made about the sequester.
Fifty percent of registered voters say they approve of the job Obama is doing, according to a March 7-10 Washington Post-ABC News poll, a five percentage point drop from the same poll in January.
When asked, "who do you trust to do a better job handling the economy – Obama or the Republicans in Congress?" the results are within the plus or minus 3.5 percentage points margin of error. Forty-four percent chose Obama and 40 percent chose the Republicans in Congress. And, when asked who do you trust to find the right balance between cutting government spending that is not needed and continuing government spending that is needed, respondents were again about evenly split. Forty-three percent said Obama and 44 percent said Republicans in Congress.
In the weeks leading up to the sequester, Obama and other administration officials were making dire predictions about long lines at airports, teacher layoffs, janitors getting paid less and prisoners being set free. By one count, fact checkers found at least six separate false statements from the administration about the sequester.
When asked if they personally felt any negative impact from the sequester, 73 percent answered "no" while 25 percent said "yes."
"Don't accentuate a fight you don't intend to wage [and] can't win," a top Democratic congressional aide told Politico. "… They spent two weeks building up sequester as a horror show and then got fact-checked a dozen times and were forced to back off their own claims of it being a disaster once they were forced to acquiesce to the cuts happening."
Washington Post political analysts Chris Cillizza and Sean Sullivan suggest that Obama's sagging poll numbers and his false predictions about the sequester are related. While noting that poll numbers generally sag a few months after an election, they write, "And, Obama's week-long warning tour before the sequester may have damaged him politically, too, as the vast majority of people felt no impact from the sequester."
Compared to the previous seven second-term presidents, though, only one had an approval rating as low as Obama's at this point in their term: George W. Bush.