According to Gallup, the president’s weekly job approval has taken a tumble:
President Barack Obama averaged 46% job approval the week of Feb. 28-March 6, his lowest weekly average since mid-December. Obama’s weekly approval rating had steadily improved from mid-December to late January, peaking at 50% during the final two weeks in January, before dropping below that mark in February. . . .
The seven-week period from mid-December through the end of January was the longest stretch Obama has had of stable or improving ratings. Prior to that, there were several periods when his ratings either held steady or improved four weeks in a row, including a stretch from April to May 2009 that saw his approval ratings improve by a total of five percentage points.
Compared with the final two weeks of January, when Obama averaged 50% overall approval, his recent drop in support has come mainly from Democrats and independents
Andrew Malcolm quips that the president’s numbers are down “even without a viable announced Republican opponent. Even with the unemployment rate down a smidge to 8.9% (it was 6.9% when Obama was elected). Even with 192,000 jobs created last month. Even with Joe Biden out of the country.”
His 2012 prospects can’t be that great when his approval ratings — at their highest — were only at 50.
A 46% approval rating isn’t exactly a number that guarantees re-election, but it’s not low enough to make it out of the question, either. As Andrew points out, the next election will focus on the same economic and financial issues as the midterms. Obama’s ability to win re-election depends on (a) the economy improving significantly, (b) demonstrating leadership on fiscal reform, and (c) the candidate the Republicans nominate to challenge him. Obama can’t control (c), but he can control the other two factors. And let’s face it — if the economy roars back to life under Obama and the jobless rate drops below 7% and Obama takes the lead on significant budgetary reform, he’ll win no matter who runs against him in 2012.
But that’s the rub. Obama’s only real option to grow the economy is to reduce the regulatory burden on the private sector, especially in the energy sector, and Obama is determined to go in the opposite direction.