A Very Vulnerable President (A Continuing Series)

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on March 13, 2012

Boy, if Republicans could ever get their act together on the national level, Barack Obama would be in a lot of trouble:

Despite improving job growth and an extended Republican primary fight dividing his would-be opponents, President Obama is heading into the general election season on treacherous political ground, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

At a time of rising gas prices, heightened talk of war with Iran and setbacks in Afghanistan, Mr. Obama’s approval rating dropped substantially in recent weeks, the poll found, with 41 percent of respondents expressing approval of the job he is doing and 47 percent saying they disapprove — a dangerous position for any incumbent seeking re-election.

The poll provides a statistical reminder of how unsettled and unpredictable this year’s political landscape remains. Just one month ago, Mr. Obama reached a critical benchmark by winning approval from 50 percent of Times/CBS News poll respondents, his re-election prospects lifting along with confidence that the nation was finally emerging from the aftermath of the Great Recession.

The Times story goes on to state that the president does better in one-on-one matchups against Republicans, but that may not be entirely correct. See also this:

Disapproval of President Obama’s handling of the economy is heading higher — alongside gasoline prices — as a record number of Americans now give the president “strongly” negative reviews on the 2012 presidential campaign’s most important issue, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Increasingly pessimistic views of Obama’s performance on the economy — and on the federal budget deficit — come despite a steadily brightening employment picture and other signs of economic improvement, and they highlight the political sensitivity of rising gas prices.

The potential political con­sequences are clear, with the ­rising public disapproval reversing some of the gains the president had made in hypothetical general-election matchups against possible Republican rivals for the White House. Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and former senator Rick Santorum (Pa.) now both run about evenly with Obama. The findings come just five weeks after Obama appeared to be getting a boost from the improving economy.

For quite a while, I have thought that despite the general economic uncertainty, and the relatively low poll numbers that the president has been saddled with, he would still be able to win a general election contest against candidates from a weak Republican field. I still think that the Republican field is weak, but what does it say about this president that he is losing in polls against candidates from that field?

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