By: John Zogby Forbes.com Contributor
Warning: I am going to be a multi-armed pollster. Zogby Analytics has just completed a poll - all taken after the revelation that the National Security Administration has been collecting "meta-data from Americans' telephone calls, Skye conversations, Google searches, and more. Surprisingly, President Barack Obama's overall job approval rating has dipped just two points to 51% and he is bolstered by strong support from Democrats (90%), liberals (89%), Hispanics (78%), African Americans (93%), and First Globals (62%).
Yet when Mr. Obama is measured on how well he is doing on major issues, a much different story emerges. The poll of 1247 likely voters nationwide was taken June 6 and 7 and shows that President's performance on taxes is viewed as positive only by 34%. He doesn't fare all that much better on the budget (33%), the economy (36%), and health care (39%, with a 41% "poor" rating). But he does get into majority-support territory on handling foreign policy (50%), the environment (50%) and "understanding the needs of the middle class (52%). Importantly, he has personal favorable that are pretty good: 52% favorable, 45% unfavorable.
None of these - even the positive ones - are great, but it is hard to glean any good news for the Republican Party. At a point when the Democratic incumbent is on the ropes, the GOP doesn't appear to be making any hay. We asked which party is better at handling each of the major issues. On taxes, a tie - 39% said the Democrats, 40% the Republicans, 20% not sure. (Hispanics were a bit cooler toward the Democrats on this one with 47% saying the Democrats and 37% the Republicans). There was a slight edge for the GOP on the budget - 40% to 37%, with 21% not sure. - and even slighter on the economy, 41% Republicans and 39% Democrats, with 20% not sure. On foreign policy - 39% Republicans, 37% Democrats, and 24% not sure.
But on a host of other issues, voters give decisive margins to the Democrats: health care (44% to 33%, with 23% not sure); the environment (50% to 26%, with 24% not sure); and understanding the needs of the middle class (48% to 32%, with 20% not sure).
A popular and re-elected President is mustering only anemic numbers. The challenging party can only score a tie or miniscule advantage on several of the major issues, while getting trounced on others. And, perhaps most telling of all: one fifth to one fourth of the voters are not sure who is best the handle their interests.
I know I am on about my sixth hand (you know, "on one hand, but on the other hand, yet on the other hand, and so on) on this, but I thought it would be useful to re-do the 2012 presidential election. Americans not only continue to support President Obama over former Governor Mitt Romney but they do so by even a wider margin than the vote last November - 50% to 42%. Mr. Obama still holds his base and among those independents and moderates who are less enthusiastic about him, they have moved over to the "not sure" column, not to the GOP.