The President And The Scandals: What's The Fallout?

May 22, 2013, 3:00 PM GMT+0

(Week of 5/18/2013) Congressional investigations of the attacks and killings in Benghazi, the accusations that the Internal Revenue Service scrutinized the tax-exempt status of groups that opposed the Administration, and the revelation that the Department of Justice had acquired phone records of the Associated Press as part of an investigation into the source of a leak, all happened within a short period of time. They brought increased levels of criticism of the White House. But the latest Economist/YouGov Poll suggests that the public still feels pretty much the same way about the President as it did beforehand.

But this is no cause for celebration at the White House: Americans continue to be divided about the way Barack Obama is handling his job, as they have been for months.

Obama still maintains somewhat higher approval when it comes to his handling of terrorism. That rating spiked after the killing of Osama bin Laden two years ago, but then dropped below 50%. This week, 48% approve, while 39% do not.

And the divisions seen at the time of his inauguration - two months after he won a second term with a majority of the vote cast – also remain. Is he a strong or weak leader? Then and now, half call President Obama a strong leader and half say he is weak.

There is even some discontent among members of the President’s own party. More than a third overall -and one in four Democrats - say the President has accomplished less than they expected so far in his Administration. Only 15% overall –and just 26% of Democrats - say he has accomplished more than they expected.

While recent scandals and investigations have yet to have a direct impact on the President, he is clearly still struggling with the very slow economic recovery and continued worries about the cost and quality of his health care reform plan, the critical component of which goes into effect next year. More people disapprove of his handling of health care than approve. And more Americans say the economy is getting worse than say it is improving, something that has been the case throughout the Obama Presidency. Even though the gap has been narrowing, pessimism continues to outweigh optimism.