TODAY   |  June 05, 2013

New poll shows Obama’s approval at 48 percent

Despite recent scandals, a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll shows his approval rating holding steady at 48 percent, but people are reporting lower confidence in his ability to handle crises, among other qualities. NBC’s Chuck Todd reports.

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>>> we have breaking news out of the white house at this hour. u.n. ambassador susan rice is going to become national security adviser replacing tom donelan. we get to nbc's political director chuck todd . this is long rumored but quite significant. tell us about it.

>> it is significant in the timing and how it's coming. this is an open secret susan rice was going to replace the national security adviser. the question was when would tom donelan gdecided to leave. it's surprising on the timing. the announcement is going to come today, the white house , the president is going to do this and nominating susan rice who had become a republican punching bag during the whole benghazi controversy and the whole idea of the talking points, you're going to hear a lot of republicans chiming in about susan rice . at the same time this is not a senate confirmed position and this is a bit of a defiant move by the president to his republican critics.

>> chuck let's love to a poll, it shows the president's job approval rating essentially holding steady but if you dig deep into the numbers as i know you have, you see some ominous signs for the president.

>> it's lift the hood looks fine on the surface but underneath not so good. major erosion, the president's support among independents has gone from 41% dropping down to 29%, an ominous sign, and if you look at certain presidential characteristics and you sort of see how these trio of controversies in washington, irs, benghazi , have impacted the president, his ability to handle a crisis, confidence, all down, strong leadership qualities, down, being honest and straightforward, down, all of these areas not looking good as far as the public is concerned and this is the way you can see the public is not happy with how the president's running the country.

>> his approval rate is staying steady which i suppose you attribute to his numbers on the economy have gotten better. let's dive into the trio of scandals because it does show there is an impact on the president.

>> it is large majority, these scandals raise doubts about the obama administration, what's interesting, we had 58% on benghazi , 58% on the irs. they don't touch the president personally. you only see core republicans seeing president obama was personally involved in some of these controversies so there is a separation. the public is sitting there judging, not happy with how the obama administration is handling these events, not happy with their involvement in it but not yet personally blaming the president so he's got some time here. the public has a wait and see attitude.

>> very quickly, chuck, i ask you about chris christie 's decision to schedule a special election in october for that vacated senate seat. that's a decision that seemed to please almost nobody.

>> a little too cute, essentially chris christie made a decision in the best interest of chris christie and the new jersey republican party and oh, by the way, national democrats . they're happy because getting a senator sooner rather than later, democrats are heavily favored to win that special election in the senate seat but what chris christie avoids is a popular democratic and newark mayor cory booker being on the ballot at the same time as him. why does this matter? chris christie wants to have a bunch of republicans win state legislative seats at the same time in november and by having booker not on the ballot that will drain some democratic enthusiasm.

>> chuck todd with all the political headlines, thank you.