Greg Sargent notes a contradiction:
The poll finds that 63 percent of independents support dealing with the deficit by raising taxes on those over $250,000. It also finds that only 23 percent of independents support cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, versus 75 percent who oppose such cuts. Indys are far more in agreement with Obama than with Republicans on the two core questions at the heart of the fiscal debate right now.
Yet the poll also finds that only 28 percent approve of Obama’s handling of the deficit, versus 68 percent who disapprove.
How can this be? What explains such odd behavior?
This will probably satisfy no one, but I think the answer is pretty simple. First: the vast, vast majority of independents don't really have any idea what Obama's plan to handle the deficit is. They just know that (a) the deficit is high and (b) Obama is president. Beyond that, there are kids to get to school, laundry to be done, bosses to be pleased, and leaky faucets to be fixed. The details of the deficit debate are just a bit of partisan background noise that they haven't really parsed yet.
Second: the economy still sucks. Unemployment is high, wages are stagnant, housing prices are dropping, friends and neighbors are having trouble making ends meet, and taxes are due. So approval of everything Obama related is down.
I realize that these two things are sort of an all-purpose explanation for everything. Nonetheless, that's my explanation.