President Obama's approval rating tumbled to a 16-month low in the latest IBD/TIPP survey released Monday as the sequester fight appeared to hurt his standing with partisans on both sides.
The IBD/TIPP Presidential Leadership Index fell 6.2% to 48.4, the lowest since December 2011. That ended five months over 50, which signifies support.
His rating among Republicans fell 4.3 points to 12.8, while his approval among Democrats sank 4.2 points to 81. His support among single women, a key source of his liberal support, has fallen from 74.6 at the time of his re-election to just 57.3 now. All those readings were the lowest in more than a year.
These findings may reflect fallout over the sequester, the automatic cuts to defense and other discretionary spending that began March 1.
Independents were less negative about Obama, but the reading was below the 50 mark for the 41st straight month.
Just 30% of Americans give Obama a good grade on the budget vs. 47% opposed. In January, it was 32%-43%. Again, Republicans and Democrats led the decline, especially among those giving him an unacceptable "F."
In the weeks leading up to the sequester, Obama and other administration officials warned of serious economic pain, forecasting huge airport security delays, vaccination cuts and other dire consequences. The White House apparently expected Republicans to buckle at the last minute or soon after the cuts began.
But so far most Americans haven't seen much impact. The major media have taken Obama to task for exaggerating the sequester while the decision to cancel White House tours has been widely ridiculed.
"The sequestration may be the primary contributor to the index's fall, from those who feel that the skies have not fallen and from those folks who may be directly affected by automatic cuts like some in Virginia," said Raghavan Mayur, president of TIPP, a unit of TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence, IBD's polling partner.
The administration now says the sequester will be felt over time, but Democrats have already caved. Late last month, Congress passed and Obama signed a continuing resolution that keeps the government funded at sequester levels through Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year.
The IBD/TIPP survey suggests liberals were upset that Obama lost what they saw as a winnable fight. Conservatives were reminded why they oppose the president so strongly.
Other polls show Obama losing his advantage over Republicans on the budget and economy. That could be important as both sides vie for public opinion in fiscal fights in the coming years.
The IBD/TIPP Presidential Leadership Index's 6.2% drop was the worst since July 2011, when the debt ceiling standoff triggered a Standard & Poor's U.S. credit downgrade. The White House proposed the se quester to help resolve that crisis.
Gun control also may have played a role in Obama's weaker support. Much like the sequester fight, Democratic leaders have disappointed core supporters while angering rivals. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid last month said he would pull an "assault weapons" ban from gun control legislation. He argued that the ban wouldn't get 40 votes — an admission that many red-state Democratic senators would oppose it.
The economy likely didn't fuel Obama's latest drop. The IBD/TIPP Economic Optimism Index dived to a 15-month low in early March amid Obama's dire sequester warnings. (April's gauge will be released Tuesday.)
Monday's ISM manufacturing index suggested factory growth slowed last month. But other reports show the strong housing recovery remains intact while consumers have held up despite the payroll tax hike. The major stock indexes boomed in Q1.
The economy remains sluggish: 55% of Americans say the U.S. is still in recession.
IBD/TIPP polled 915 adult Americans from March 25-30.