President Obama has an unhappy 2013, but opinions on health care have stabilized and are possibly rebounding, although some argue they have always been stable. Data visualization helps you see the wave of violence sweeping Iraq. And there's talk of punching polls in the face. Seriously. This is HuffPollster for Tuesday, December 17, 2013.
A TOUGH YEAR FOR OBAMA - Dan Balz and Scott Clement: "President Obama is ending his fifth year in office matching the worst public approval ratings of his presidency, with record numbers of Americans saying they disapprove of his job performance and his once-hefty advantages over Republicans in Congress eroded in many areas, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. His position is all the more striking when compared with his standing a year ago, as he was preparing for his second inauguration after a solid reelection victory. That high note proved fleeting as the president faced a series of setbacks, culminating in the botched rollout of his Affordable Care Act two months ago. Approval rates of both parties in Congress remain worse than Obama’s. Still, it is the president who has suffered the most damage from his administration’s self-inflicted wounds and a year of partisan conflict that included a partial shutdown of the government." [WaPost]
But ACA opposition declines - Gary Langer: "Public opposition to the new health care law has eased in the past month, enough to help level off Barack Obama’s falling popularity – but not to turn it around….Criticism of the health care law and its rollout remains substantial. Sixty-four percent say that from what they’ve heard the federal government’s sign-up website still is not working as it should. Sixty-two percent disapprove of Obama’s handling of the law’s implementation, essentially unchanged from last month. Fifty-five percent still call the website’s failure “a sign of broader problems in implementing the health care law.” And 60 percent say the law’s individual mandate should be delayed, although, in one of the poll’s single biggest one-month changes, that’s down from 71 percent in November. There are particular groups in which the rollout has prompted unsettled responses to the health care law. Last month opposition jumped by 16 points among adults under age 30. Now opposition among under-30s has turned the other way, dropping by 18 points. Opposition also has eased by 17 points among political conservatives, though it’s still a substantial 64 percent in this group….Additional results on the health care law indicate that Americans are finding it less personally damaging than many had anticipated. But it’s also seen as less beneficial to the system overall than many expected." [ABC]
Other surveys show different trends - At least seven other polling organizations have tracked general support or opposition to the health care law on national surveys in both October or November and December. Only one other pollster -- CBS/New York Times -- found declines in opposition comparable to ABC/Washington Post. On five other surveys, the changes have been small, and well within random sampling error, although four of the five showed slight net worsening of opinion toward the ACA.
Obamacare views 'locked in for years now' - Greg Sargent: "What all this probably means is that the temporary drop in support shouldn’t distract from the fact that the public is mostly divided down the middle on the law — with marginally more disapproving than approving, but with outright repeal remaining a minority position — and that this has been locked in for years now. Seriously, go look at the trends over time. The current split is roughly where opinion was in August of 2009 (45-50), when the Post first polled on this. It’s marginally better now for the law than it was after the 2010 midterm drubbing to Dems (43-52). It’s almost exactly where it was in the summer of 2012, before Obama won reelection decisively (47-47). Then it dropped, and now it’s back to where it was before the rollout.
DATA SHOWS THE TOLL OF VIOLENCE IN IRAQ - Shane Shifflett, Hilary Fung, Eline Gordts and Jay Boice: "The death toll in Iraq this year ranges from some 7,900 to 8,700 people so far, making 2013 the most deadly year for the country since 2008, according to IraqBodyCount.org, a U.K.-based website founded in 2003 and run by volunteers to record civilian deaths. The special United Nations representative for Iraq described some recent attacks as 'execution-style killings,' and single bombings have claimed as many as 85 lives. Many independent monitors are concerned the situation will continue to worsen….While the U.S. military and its allies have tracked the casualties suffered by troops, few parties have been able to count the number of Iraqis injured or killed since the start of the war in 2003. While the U.S. made an effort to document civilian casualty data during its presence in the country, the administration 'had consistent problems in collecting and defining data, changed methods and failed to estimate the margin of uncertainty,' according to a report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a D.C.-based think tank. The Iraqi Government, too, attempted to quantify the number of slain citizens, but that set of data appears to undercount fatalities when compared to recent efforts by the United Nations. According to CSIS, the Iraqi government’s figures 'failed to meet the most basic criteria to validate the integrity of their reporting.'" [HuffPost]
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TUESDAY'S 'OUTLIERS' - Links to more news at the intersection of polling, politics and political data:
-A national poll by PPP (D) finds Obama's ratings at a low, but Democrats ahead on the generic 2014 vote. [PPP]
-Post/ABC poll shows high ratings for Pope Francis among Catholics. [WaPost]
-Amy Walter wants to do violence to the Des Moines Register Iowa poll. [CNN]
-Harry Enten notes that Obama's weekly approval rating has been rising on the Gallup daily tracking. [@ForecasterEnten]
-Neil Newhouse (R) thinks Americans have "closed the book on the Obama presidency. [POS]
-With a recount in progress, Mark Herring continues to lead the Virginia attorney general's race. [Google Doc]
-Internet Archive unveils interactive maps of 400,000 hours of U.S. television news. [Archive.org]