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Have scandals finally hurt Obama?
A Quinnipiac poll suggests the relentless stream of bad headlines might be taking a toll
President Obama's approval rating among Independents has dipped by 4 percentage points.
President Obama's approval rating among Independents has dipped by 4 percentage points. Kristoffer Tripplaar-Pool/Getty Images
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resident Obama's popularity has slipped after weeks of negative headlines about a flurry of scandals, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday. Forty-five percent of the voters surveyed said they approved of Obama's job performance, down from 48 percent in a similar poll a month earlier — a statistically significant drop.

Republicans still overwhelmingly disapprove of Obama, while Democrats continue to support him. The change came among the coveted group of independent voters that can tip elections — only 38 percent of them approve of Obama's job performance, down from 42 percent the previous month.

Some voters were bothered by the Justice Department's spying on journalists' phone records to catch a leaker, and by the Obama administration's handling of the Benghazi terrorist attack. But voters were particularly bothered by the IRS' targeting of conservative groups, with strong bipartisan support for a special prosecutor to investigate the tax agency.

Is Obama in serious trouble as his second term is just beginning?

Rick Moran at American Thinker argues that Obama really should be worried. "The takeaway from this poll isn't Obama's approval numbers," he says, "but rather the direction they are headed."

Ed Morrissey at Hot Air says that the trend doesn't bode well for Democrats as they head toward next year's midterms, despite Obama fans insisting that the scandals were overblown.

And it's not just job approval, either. Obama's reserve of trust with voters has declined significantly as well as the scandals take a toll on perceptions of his integrity...

Obama has lost independents on this question, which break significantly towards mistrust, 40/56. The worst overall number Obama had on this question over the last three years was 55/38 in September 2010 just before the midterms that he lost by a landslide. [Hot Air]

However, not all polls are reaching the same conclusions. Jonathan Easley at The Hill notes that a Gallup poll released a day before Quinnipiac's told a different story, with 50 percent approving of Obama's performance and only 43 percent disapproving.

Why haven't the negative headlines taken more of a toll? Easley says one reason is that positive economic news has boosted people's spirits. Another, he says, is that "the blame for the scandals hasn't yet reached the White House." Pew Research director Michael Dimock tells The Hill that it's never the first wave of bad headlines that hurts — it's a bungled response or slow drip of damning revelations that does the real damage. "It's still kind of early," he says.

Greg Sargent at The Washington Post notes that Quinnipiac also found that "an overwhelming majority of Americans — 73-22 — thinks we should be placing a higher priority on the economy and unemployment than on the 'scandals' gripping Washington." A strong economy will give Democrats a huge boost in the midterms, Sargent says, while the GOP's obsession with the scandals will show "that Republicans aren't interested in solving the problems facing the middle class."

Harold Maass is a contributing editor at TheWeek.com. He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami HeraldFox News, and ABC News.

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