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Obama ratings sink to new lows as hope fades

07 September, 2011

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WASHINGTON: Public pessimism about the direction of the country has jumped to its highest level in nearly three years, erasing the sense of hope that followed President Obama's inauguration and pushing his approval ratings to a record low, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

More than 60 percent of those surveyed say they disapprove of the way the president is handling the economy and, what has become issue No. 1, the stagnant jobs situation. Just 43 percent now approve of the job he is doing overall, a new career low; 53 percent disapprove, a new high.

The urgency for Obama to act is driven not just by the most recent unemployment report, which on Friday showed no job growth in August and the unemployment rate stuck at 9.1 percent, but also by the depth of the political hole in which the president finds himself. Even more than two-thirds of those who voted for Obama say things are badly off course.

By this time in their presidencies, approval ratings for both Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton — who also suffered serious midterm setbacks during their first term — had settled safely above the 50 percent mark. Both then stayed in positive territory throughout their reelection campaigns.

When ratings for George W. Bush slipped into the low 40s during his second term in office, they remained there or lower for the remainder of his presidency.

Obama does, however, rate better than do congressional Republicans, his adversaries in recent, fierce confrontations on federal spending. Just 28 percent approve of the way Republicans in Congress are doing their job, and 68 percent disapprove, the worst spread for the GOP since summer 2008.

Nonetheless, current trends are highly unfavorable for the president. By 2 to 1, more Americans now say the administration's economic policies are making the economy worse rather than better. The number who say those policies helped has been chopped in half since the start of the year. The percentage of Americans disapproving of how Obama is doing when it comes to creating jobs spiked 10 percentage points higher since July.

Of the more than six in 10 who now disapprove of Obama's work on jobs and the economy, nearly half of all Americans "strongly" disapprove.

On the deficit, which was at the heart of the pitched battle over the debt ceiling earlier this summer, Obama has reaped no dividends for trying to produce a compromise agreement with Republicans. Six in 10 disapprove of Obama's work on the federal budget deficit, a percentage that is relatively unmoved in recent surveys and basically where it was a year ago.

End.

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