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Obama losing support of nervous partymen

world Updated: Jul 19, 2009 01:08 IST
Beth Fouhy
Beth Fouhy
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Could it be that US President Barack Obama’s Midas touch is starting to fade a bit, even among members of his own party?

Conservative House Democrats are balking at the cost and direction of Obama’s top priority, an overhaul of the nation’s health care system.

A key Senate Democrat, Max Baucus of Montana, complains that Obama’s opposition to paying for it with a tax on health benefits “is not helping us.”

Another Democrat, Congressman Dan Boren of Oklahoma, tells his local newspaper that Obama is too liberal and is “very unpopular” in his district.

From his first days in office, Obama’s popularity helped him pass the landmark $787 billion stimulus package and fueled his ambitious plans to overhaul the nation’s health care system and tackle global warming.

Obama continues to be comparatively popular. But now recent national surveys have shown a measurable drop in his job approval rating, even among Democrats.

A CBS news survey out this week had his national approval rating at 57 per cent, and his standing among Democrats down 10 percentage points since last month, from 92 per cent to 82 per cent.

With the economy continuing to sputter and joblessness on the rise, many of Obama’s staunchest Democratic supporters are anxious for his agenda to start bearing fruit.

“We are eager and impatient, so you’re seeing a little bit of that,” said Chris Redfern, chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party. “Elections have results, and those in the base are the most anxious to achieve what’s promised in the election. That’s why Democrats are showing some impatience in reaching our goal.”

Obama won Ohio, a key swing state, by 4 percentage points in 2008 over Republican John McCain. But the one-time industrial powerhouse has been hit hard by the weak economy, and a Quinnipiac University poll released this month showed Obama with a lackluster approval rating of 49 per cent.