Obama approval rating continues to fade

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A poll released on Thursday found that President Barack Obama slipped with voters in August and is now upside down as he prepares to run for re-election in 2012.

The poll from Quinnipiac University found 52 % of those surveyed disapproved of the job Obama was doing while 42% backed the president. In July, a poll from Quinnipiac found that 47% approved of Obama’s performance in the White House while 46% disapproved. While Democrats rally behind Obama and Republicans remain opposed, the President is upside down among independent voters. Only 40% of independents approved of the president’s job while 54% disapproved of his performance.

Peter Brown, the assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said these numbers should alarm the president and his supporters.

"President Barack Obama has hit a low 42% approval in the past but this is his highest disapproval rating,” Brown said. “Ominous for him is that the share of voters who think he has strong leadership qualities has dropped from 64 to 33% in January to 50 to 48% now. While half of the voters say that he cares about their problems, the statistic is not impressive since it is a measure on which Democratic presidents historically rate well.

"When Quinnipiac University asked that question about Obama in November of 2008, he received a 70 - 22% positive score on understanding the needs of average folks,” continued Brown. "The best news for the president is that voters still blame former President George W. Bush rather than Obama for the economy by 53 to 32%. One can only imagine what Obama's approval rating might look like if that ever changes.”

The poll found that Americans of both sexes disapprove of the president. Only 39% of men surveyed and 44% of women approved of Obama. While 86% of blacks and 56% of Hispanics approved of the president, 61% of whites disapproved of him. Obama was upside down with all voters in the poll save those younger than 35.

"Men, whites and independent voters were the president's weak spots when his job approval was positive and those groups have progressed from being weak spots to being serious problems," Brown said. "Of course, the way to improve his standing among those voters is the same recipe for success among the entire electorate -- an improving economy."

As Brown noted, Obama is not being helped by the economy. Back in a poll taken by Quinnipiac in January, 36% of those surveyed insisted the economy was getting better while 20% said it was worsening. In the new poll, 49% maintain that the economy is worsening while only 11% maintain that it is improving. 76% of those surveyed thought the nation was in a recession.

There was some good news in the poll for Obama: 44% thought the president would manage the economy better than would the congressional Republicans and 40% thought the Republicans in Congress would do a better job with the economy.

When matched against Republican presidential hopeful Rick Perry, 43% thought Obama would do a better job on the economy while 41% thought the Texas governor would. Former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, who is also running for the Republican nomination, was more trusted on the economy than Obama. While 42% thought Obama would do a better job, Mitt Romney inched past him with a 46% rating.

Despite Obama’s poor approval rating, voters remained divided over the President, with 47% seeing him as favorable and the same number seeing him as not. That still puts Obama in better shape than congressional leaders such as U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, favorable at 22%, GOP’s leader in the U.S. Senate, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, favorable by 14% and unfavorable by 23%. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., was seen in an unfavorable light by 36% while only 18% saw him as favorable. A clear majority -- 52%-- saw House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California as unfavorable versus her 24% favorable rating.

The Tea Party movement was upside down as well, with 42% seeing it as unfavorable while 29% thought it was favorable. Despite that, the tea party -- of which 12% of those surveyed said they considered themselves a member -- still did better than the two major parties: 51% saw the Democrats as unfavorable and 53% saw the Republicans as such.

"The Tea Party got a lot of negative publicity during the debt-ceiling negotiations and most American voters either don't like the group or don't know enough about it to make a decision," Brown said. "Voters do know the Democratic and Republican parties -- and they don't like either one."

The poll of 2,730 registered voters was taken from Aug. 16-27 and had  a margin of error of +/- 1.9 percent.

This update on Obama’s approval ratings was written by Kevin Derby for Sunshine State News and published September 2, 2011. Stay up-to-date on the latest governmental issues – and Rick Scott news with Sunshine State News, the online source for Florida news and politics. SSN examines the relationship between Florida politics and business and provides commentary from a conservative viewpoint. The premiere news source speaks to an audience of lawmakers, lobbyists, business and opinion leaders, and Floridians who expect to hold their leaders accountable and for them to make pragmatic decisions. Read Rick Scott news and other work by Kevin Derby at SunshineStateNews.com. Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com or at (850) 727-0859.

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