The scandals that have occurred under President Obama’s watch, including the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) targeting Tea Party groups and the government spying on AP and Fox News reporters, have substantially decreased public approval of the Obama administration. This is bad news for the administration and worse news for other Washington Democrats who have elections to worry about.
A recent poll shows that a 68% majority of voters feel as though “the federal government has gotten out of control and is threatening the basic civil liberties of Americans.” Forty-seven percent of Democrats feel this way, as well as 76% of independents, 87% of Republicans, and 92% of Tea Partiers. The last group obviously feels so strongly because Tea Party organizations were specifically targeted by the IRS. It is disappointing that others are not more outraged, as a government overreaching its power knows no bounds, and is equally capable of targeting all groups holding all opinions. Every American should be equally and substantially disturbed by government targeting people based on political beliefs.
In relation to the AP scandal, 60% of Americans assert the Justice Department “went too far” when seizing phone records of AP reporters without notice. This includes 45% of Democrats, 62% of Independents, and 77% of Republicans. It appears that the DOJ isn’t very familiar with the Constitution’s “freedom of the press” clause. Forty percent disapprove of Attorney General Eric Holder, head of the DOJ who recused himself from the AP investigation, and his current approval rating of 28% is down from 64% in May 2010. When a presidential administration acts unethically, people notice.
Furthermore, according to a Fox News poll, “disapproval of President Obama’s job performance is above 50% for the first time in a year, his honesty rating is at a new low, and half of voters already think he’s a lame-duck.” Obama’s disapproval rating is up 6% from last month, and his approval is down 2%. These drastic changes are bad news for Democrats – two major factors in elections are approval of the incumbent party and the state of the economy, neither of which are favorable.
Worse yet, Americans are increasingly distrustful of President Obama. In April 2009, 73% of voters believed he is honest and trustworthy. This number fell to 51% in July 2012, and that number is now at a low of 49%. A record number of Americans, 48%, believe he is dishonest. This lack of trust is caused by the numerous scandals which have occurred under President Obama’s watch. The president himself, along with White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, repeatedly and disingenuously stated his administration had no knowledge of any of the scandals going on under his watch before they made headlines. Carney’s dodging of questions, non-answers, and explanations of the administration’s lack of knowledge is increasingly leading many to doubt he and the Obama administration are as ignorant of the scandals below them as they claim.
But beyond any immediate polling data, these scandals are most importantly a great disservice to the American people, the Founding Fathers, and everything for which America stands. They are also going to damage Democrats in the next election, especially considering that many Democratic senators knew about these scandals and may have even encouraged the IRS’ targeting of conservative groups. Polls reflect distrust, dissatisfaction, and uncertainty felt by the public because of these events, which means a long road ahead for Washington Democrats.