John Sides thinks Democrats should be concerned about Obama’s declining approval rating:
I estimated a model of presidential election outcomes from 1948-2012 that included change in gross domestic product over the first two quarters of the election year, presidential approval as of June of the election year, an indicator for whether the incumbent is running, and the interaction of approval and incumbency. This model suggests that when the incumbent is not running, a 7-point drop in approval is associated with a 1-point drop in the incumbent party candidate’s share of the major-party vote. If I were Hillary Clinton or any other Democratic hopeful, I’d want Obama to be as popular as possible when he leaves office. And if I were Obama and I wanted the legislative achievements of my presidency to last, I’d want a Democrat to win in 2016.
Nate Cohn isn’t worried about the slide continuing:
Without additional bad news, a recovery seems likelier [than a long-term decline]. So far, there’s not much evidence that the “scandals” or controversies of the last few months have much staying power. With the NSA dominating the news of the last few weeks, you could be forgiven for forgetting about Benghazi, IRS targeting, or the AP leaks. The sequester, which prompted an initial decline in the president’s approval ratings, might have also slipped your mind.
Without additional revelations, what’s going to keep the NSA controversy alive? My hunch: nothing, just like the controversies that preceded it. The NSA controversy might be especially likely to dissipate, since Republicans don’t appear keen on mounting a sustained attack on a program they have a record of supporting.
What would worry me is this:
The number of Americans who think he is honest has dropped nine points over the past month, to 49%.
Part of this is because of a concerted campaign from Fox News to portray him as guilty until proven innocent on the IRS, and then to challenge him (for purely factional reasons) on the NSA. But part is the fact that many Obama supporters (including me) have been critical lately. When Obamaites take the president to task, it helps legitimize the criticism in a way Sarah Palin wouldn’t. But his core strength has been the fact (I would say) that he has maintained an honest and straightforward image with Americans for a long time. It is one of his greatest assets. Losing that makes winning the argument on the Hill far harder. And the big drop in millennial support is also a structural shift. Maybe it will perk up. But the drop was sharp.
(Chart from TPM)