Barack Obama’s approval rating is hovering around 40 percent, falling as low as 38 percent in a recent Gallup survey and 39 percent in the latest McClatchey-Marist poll.
That’s bad. But it gets worse.
The new ABC News/Washington Post poll says that 55 percent of Americans now expect that whoever wins the Republican presidential nomination in 2012 to take the presidency. Only 37 percent believe Obama will win.
That’s really bad. And the numbers from the battleground states are even more unsettling, A new Quinnipiac survey of Florida voters finds that only 39 percent approve of Obama’s handling of the presidency, while 57 percent disapprove. Only 41 percent of those surveyed say they think the president should be reelected.
Polls are transitory. The president’s numbers can and probably will improve, especially if he stays focused on the message he has been delivering in recent days: invest in job creation, establish fairer tax policies that make the rich pay their share, defend Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
But his decision to submit free-deals with South Korea, Columbia and Panama to Congress — deals that are opposed by organized labor and that even Obama-friendly analysts say threaten U.S. manufacturing jobs — could undo any progress for the president, especially in battleground states such as Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Indiana and Wisconsin. Congressman Mike Michaud, D-Maine, says flatly that Obama’s move is not going to go over well with working people. "Does (Obama) want to create jobs at home with the American Jobs Act, or does he want to offshore them to places like South Korea? At a time of nine percent unemployment, I know what my constituents would prefer," says Michaud. “There’s something wrong with this picture and the American people see right through it."
So what happens if the president doesn’t get traction? What if his numbers stay in the doldrums, or only improve marginally? What if working families turn against him in numbers that spell real trouble in swing states? Then the man who had such lengthy coattails in 2008 could become a burden for down-ballot Democrats in 2012. Just as anti-Obama sentiments on the right pulled voters to the polls in 2010, while a waning of enthusiasm for the president on the left depressed Democratic turnout that year, 2012 could see a pattern where Democrats lose not just the presidency but the Senate, the House and key state contests across the country.