President Barack Obama's approval fell to the lowest since the start of 2012, according to the latest IBD/TIPP poll released Monday. Independents' support fell sharply amid budget and ObamaCare setbacks and a continued sluggish economy.
The IBD/TIPP Presidential Leadership Index fell 0.9 point in May to 47.5, the second straight month below 50, signaling net disapproval.
Among independents, support fell seven points — 15% — to 39.6, Obama's second-worst reading ever for this key group. The low point was July 2011, during the debt ceiling standoff.
Frustration over the budget has intensified again. By a two-to-one margin (51%-26%), Americans disapprove of Obama's handling of budget issues. Back in January, the gap was just 43%-32%. Among swing voters, disapproval on the budget has spiked to 62%-14%.
That may reflect fallout from the sequester budget cuts. Last month, the administration began furloughs affecting thousands of air traffic controllers, causing significant flight delays and cancellations. Obama and Democratic lawmakers had hoped public pressure would force the GOP to reverse sequester cuts. But after a week, Democrats caved and agreed to give the FAA flexibility to shift funds to restore controller staffing.
Republicans had accused Obama of playing political games with the sequester, trying to maximize pain on ordinary Americans rather than try to minimize the impact. Ordinary Americans seemed to agree.
Even liberal pundits concede that Obama lost the sequester fight.
Meanwhile, opposition to the president's signature legislation appears to growing, three years after ObamaCare passed.
Just 15% say they fell more positively about ObamaCare over the past year vs. 40% that have grown more negative. Fifty-one oppose the law while 39% support it. Independents are opposed 62%-29%.
The 2010 health law is becoming a more prominent issue because it's supposed to be fully implemented next year. But even supporters are increasingly fearful that ObamaCare will be a "train wreck" as Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., recently said.
Such concerns have swelled because of delays and other negative news. The administration has already pushed back the full start of small business exchanges by a year until 2015. Some experts believe the individual exchanges will not be ready by Jan. 1. Enrollment is supposed to begin Oct. 1.
Studies suggest that individual premiums will skyrocket next year, especially for the young, due to ObamaCare. This point is sinking in. Sixty-one percent of Americans expect a significant increase in premiums due to the health law while just 7% predict a significant decline. Even a plurality of Democrats — 40% — see premiums jumping.
Meanwhile employers — especially retailers and other modest-wage companies are slashing work hours and benefits in an apparent effort to minimize ObamaCare mandate costs.
The economy also hasn't given the president a lift. Friday's April jobs report was better than expected, but still pointed to slowing growth, like other data in recent weeks.
Back in January, Americans were split 37%-37% over Obama's performance in creating job and economic growth. Now it's 34% favorable vs. 44% unfavorable — with independents negative by a two-to-one margin.
Among other poll findings:
* In the wake of the Boston bombings, Americans were closely divided over the administration's anti-terror policies, with one-third each saying they had made country safer, less safe, or had no impact. However, 39% of independents felt Obama's policies have made the country less safe against just 22% who feel safer.
* Asked if they blame the Boston bombings on immigration system failures, 53% said no vs. 44% who said yes.
* The president's support did rise slightly among Democrats and Republicans. But that only partly offset April's big drops among those groups.
* Obama's charms appear to wearing thin among single women. May's reading was 53.4, down from 74.6 in early November, when Democrats successfully appealed to this voting bloc on a variety of social issues.