As job creation sputters, President Obama's support is falling to new lows and voters are increasingly favoring a Republican-led Congress, according to the August IBD/TIPP poll released Monday.
The IBD/TIPP Presidential Leadership Index fell 1.1 points in August to 47.2, the lowest since Barack Obama took office. It's the third straight reading below 50, signaling net disapproval.
"For Obama, the bloom appears to be off the rose," said Michael Franc, vice president for government relations at the conservative Heritage Foundation.
And not just for Obama. Likely voters favor GOP control of Congress over continued Democratic rule by 50%-39%, up from 48%-43% in July. The difference was even more pronounced among independents who will decide the elections. They favor a GOP Capitol Hill by 56%-26%, up sharply from 52%-31% in July.
Blame the sluggish economy and tepid hiring. The U.S. has added just 645,000 jobs this year, with hefty losses in June and July as short-term census jobs ended. Private jobs have been too few to absorb the number of new people entering the work force over time.
"In the mind of voters, the topmost concern is jobs and the economy," said Raghavan Mayur, president of TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence, which did the poll.
Just 15% are highly confident that the jobs picture will improve over the next six months vs. 60% who are not upbeat, the IBD/TIPP poll found.
Americans, who are skeptical that the massive stimulus spending helped, are not pleased. Now 46% of respondents disapprove of Obama's handling of the economy vs. 29% who approve. Among independents, 54% are dissatisfied and 23% supportive — significantly wider than July's 44%-27%.
Even if the economy unexpectedly shows more pep in the next couple of months, it may be too late to change voters' minds.
"The poll confirms other recent data that there is very little that can or will happen between now and November 2 that will change the current trajectory of this election," said Jennifer Duffy, political editor of the Cook Political Report. "Democrats will lose seats across the board, and perhaps even their majority in the U.S. House."
The IBD/TIPP survey also found Democratic voters are less interested in the upcoming elections and less committed to voting than GOP or independent voters.
In midterm elections like November's, it's all about motivated voters. Right now Democrats are not.
The biggest decline over the last three months in the IBD/TIPP Presidential Leadership Index came from Democrats — not Republicans or independents. Their support for Obama fell from 82.3 in May to 74.9 in July.
Franc noted that the people in the Midwest may be the most primed for political change. On measures such as the Presidential Leadership Index, satisfaction with federal economic policies and direction of the country, Midwest respondents were gloomier than the rest of the country.
"To the extent that there are 10 to 12 House seats in play along the I-70 corridor, that is significant," Heritage's Franc said.
And in a switch from 2006, economic anxiety also is high in suburban battlegrounds.
"The primary concerns for them when times were good were non- economic," said Franc. "When you look at those suburban House seats that flipped to Democrats in 2006, voters were concerned with issues like abortion and global warming. To the extent that those constituencies view economic issues as paramount, their voting behavior may look very different in 2010."
The poll of 837 Americans was done August 2 to 8. It has a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.