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Monday, December 5, 2016

With a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll revealing unfavorable approval ratings for President Barack Obama, some are apparently ready to declare the death of his presidency.

“I mean, essentially the public is saying your presidency is over,” NBC’s Chuck Todd said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, just hours after the poll was released on Wednesday.

The poll that Todd described as a “disaster for the president” is certainly not good news for the White House: Only 41 percent of Americans approve of the job Obama is doing, and a 54 percent majority say they are not confident that the president “is able to lead the country and get the job done.” Additionally, 42 percent believe the administration’s performance has worsened over the past year; only 15 percent say it has improved.

As the WSJ notes, the latest numbers arrive in the midst of “foreign crises and domestic economic unease” that many seem to blame on President Obama, or at least attribute to his lack of leadership. Only 37 percent approve of Obama’s handling of foreign policy; 30 percent approve of the deal to free Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl from the Taliban; and 41 percent approve of the state of the economy.

However, Todd and others who say the poll is evidence that the president is finished are ignoring its other notable findings. The poll reveals increased — and overwhelming — public support for Obama-backed policies on issues related to climate change, education, and immigration. And despite GOP-launched attacks on the president’s handling of the VA scandal, only 14 percent blame the problems at the Department of Veterans Affairs on the Obama administration.

Additionally, Democrats in November’s elections are not completely doomed by the poll’s findings. Democrats still lead Republicans on the generic congressional ballot, 45 to 43 percent, and respondents say they plan to vote for the Democratic candidate in their congressional district over the Republican candidate by a 35 percent to 30 percent margin. Additionally, a 41 percent plurality say their vote in November won’t be a signal to President Obama (34 percent say their vote will be a signal of opposition to the president, while 24 percent say it will be a signal of support). These numbers won’t give Democrats much of a tangible advantage, given how favorable the electoral map is for Republicans, but they do run counter to the narrative that the president will be an anchor on Democratic hopes in the midterms.

Obama’s low approval ratings in the NBC News/WSJ poll are not even the lowest of his presidency. In December, a Quinnipiac University poll found that only 38 percent of Americans approved of the president’s job performance — his lowest number yet, but also evidence that he has bounced back from worse. And there’s one last silver lining for the president: Other polls have found his approval rating to be higher. According to the Huffington Post’s average, Obama’s approval sits at 45 percent.

Todd’s comments on the poll can be seen below:

AFP Photo/Brendan Smialowski

Video via MSNBC

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