A couple of things started happening on March 1:
– The so-called “sequestration” of Defense and other discretionary federal spending.
– A five-point slide in President Barack Obama’s approval ratings.
The latest rating of the president’s job performance — 46 percent in the Gallup organization’s tracking of opinion March 1-3 — is a full five points lower than it averaged during the second half of February and six to seven points lower than in late January through early February.
This follows something of a mini-surge on Obama’s approval ratings the month after his re-election, peaking at 58 percent in late December in Gallup’s tracks.
Absent any other obvious factors, the president’s official order of budget sequestration on Friday and 35-minute news conference at the White House speaking of the real pain and economic erosion ahead started the three days of surveys yielding a five-point slide.
Of course, it takes two to sequester federal spending, the executive and the legislative branch, in the agreement that was supposed to be so painful that no one would accept it.
And the president is looking better than Congress in the measures of public opinion. Heading into his State of the Union address, the president had a 52 percent approval rating, Congress a 15 percent approval rating.
Gallup also found that a plurality of Americans, by a margin of 45 to 37 percent, would have preferred to avert that sequestration.