Look at this chart:
Overlay that with this timeline of the debt ceiling negotiations of 2011:
APRIL 15 The House passes a budget plan by Representative Paul D. Ryan that proposes deep cuts in entitlements, saving $5.8 trillion. The plan is deeply unpopular among voters.President Barack Obama entered the debt ceiling negotiations with a net-negative approval rating. As House Speaker John Boehner became more belligerent and confrontational, Obama soared. The people were firmly behind him! But then he began offering concession after concession, hoping to seem "reasonable" and look like the "adult in the room," and his numbers simply tanked. That's a mathematical fact, not opinion.
MAY 9 Speaker John A. Boehner sets the stage for a showdown when he announces that Republicans will not support an increase in the federal debt limit without spending reductions.
JULY 7 Leaders emerge from negotiations at the White House with a consensus to aim for the biggest possible deal, a “grand bargain” resulting in $4 trillion in savings [...]
JULY 29 The House passes a modified Boehner plan, which now includes a balanced budget amendment to overcome conservative objections to his original plan, and the Senate quickly rejects it.
JULY 31 After the Senate rejects the Reid plan, the president and leaders in Congress hammer out a framework to cut nearly $1 trillion and a trigger to force more cuts.
He didn't return to net-positive approvals until the Democratic convention this September. People didn't reward Obama's conciliatory approach to the negotiations. Rather, they saw it (rightly) as weakness, and reacted accordingly. No one likes a weak president.
So some Obama apologists claim that the elections proved that people approved of Obama's leadership style. Well, the data says way otherwise. Brace yourself, in case you hadn't seen this before, from the exit polls:
Obama isn't doing himself any favors by drawing lines in the sand and then inevitably capitulating. Republicans have learned that there isn't a negotiating stance that Obama won't compromise. That doesn't lend itself to smart negotiations. Rather, it creates unbalanced ones, as Republicans simply wait for Obama to cave on his demands. They've learned that for Obama, making a deal is more important than what's in the deal.
It doesn't matter to the White House now, just like it didn't matter in June 2011, that the voters are with Obama. And it doesn't matter to Republicans now, just like it didn't matter in June 2011, that the voters are against them. In the end, everyone assumes Obama will capitulate, so why should Republicans deal in good faith?
And no matter how you look at it, that's simply absurd.