While all the attention has been paid to angry opponents of health care reform at Congressional town hall meetings, a bigger problem for President Obama and his party is brewing among Democrats.
Our latest Zogby Interactive poll of 4,518 likely voters (conducted from Aug. 28-31) found 48% disapprove of Obama's job performance, and 42% approve. The big story lies behind those top-line percentages.
In a similar interactive poll done six weeks ago, 88% of Democrats approved of Obama's job performance. That percentage is now down to 75%, a significant drop of 13 points. Meanwhile, there is only slight change among Republicans and Independents.
Obama has lost even more support among 18-29-year-old voters, whose approval fell by 18 points over that time. The Democrats may be able to count on older, die hard party members to come out and vote, even when they may be disappointed. But those young voters could very easily sour on the Democrats and politics itself if Obama does not deliver on his message of change.
Health care isn't the only issue that is hurting Obama with his Democratic base. The war in Afghanistan is losing popularity, and his handling of detainees and the bank bailout may not be what many Democrats voted for.
Obama still retains most of his personal popularity with Democrats, with 85% rating him favorably. However, partisans are less likely to continue to separate their opinions of the man from those of his policies than are less issue-oriented voters.
Obama is now firmly between a rock and a hard place. Liberal Democrats want a strong health care reform bill with a public option. Republicans and more conservative Democrats disagree. Obama needs to enter the fray in a very public way, which may mean knocking heads with both wings of his own party.