by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post, not known for its rabid right-wing rambling, discusses a key factor that’s hurting the Obama administration and its Democratic allies.
You can understand President Obama’s current political problems — and how those problems could make things very tough for his party in this fall’s midterm election — in a single word. And that word is “competence”.
Obama was elected in 2008 on a stated promise that he would restore competence to government. He pitched himself as the antidote to “Heck of a job, Brownie” and the Bush years, the person who would always put the most qualified candidate in every job in his Administration. That the basic functioning of government would never be in question.
Almost six years on from that election, however, Obama is faltering badly on the competence question and, in so doing, badly imperiling not only his ability to enact any sort of second term agenda but also Democrats’ chances this fall. A series of events — from the VA scandal to the ongoing border crisis to the situation in Ukraine to the NSA spying program — have badly undermined the idea that Obama can effectively manage the government.
The latest evidence is a question in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll released Sunday that asks whether the phrase “can manage the government effectively” applies to Obama. Just more than four in ten (42 percent) said that it does while 57 percent said it does not. (It was the lowest that Obama scored on any of the six characteristic questions CNN asked in the survey.)
Obama’s trajectory on the question is all to the bad for Democrats. Back in December 2009, more than three quarters of respondents in a CNN/ORC poll said that Obama was an effective manager of the government. By early November 2009 that number had dropped to 58 percent. It dipped below 50 percent for the first time in June 2010 and in the three polls in which CNN has asked the question since mid-November 2013, 40 percent, 43 percent and now 42 percent, respectively, have said that he is a good manager.
This attention to the “competence problem” is not new ground for Cillizza.