News / USA

    Latest Polls Suggest Trouble Ahead for Obama

    President Barack Obama waves during a Labor Day event at Detroit's Renaissance Center, headquarters of General Motors, in Detroit, Michigan, September 5, 2011.
    President Barack Obama waves during a Labor Day event at Detroit's Renaissance Center, headquarters of General Motors, in Detroit, Michigan, September 5, 2011.

    The latest round of national public-opinion polls gives President Barack Obama plenty to worry about as he plans his re-election strategy for next year. 

    Political analysts say the latest poll results suggest the public has lost faith in President Barack Obama's ability to turn the domestic economy around.

    The latest NBC News Wall Street Journal poll found Obama’s approval rating at a new low of 44 percent, while 51 percent disapprove.

    Republican pollster Bill McInturff is involved with the poll and he spoke to MSNBC television.

    “And when economic pessimism is this difficult and confidence is that bad it is very hard for a president to recover," he said. "It takes a substantial event to try to change those kind of numbers.”

    Similar results are found in the latest survey by NBC News and the Washington Post where 77 percent of those asked now see the country headed in the wrong direction.

    The president will offer new proposals on job creation Thursday in a speech to Congress. But veteran political analyst Tom DeFrank of the New York Daily News says Obama may have a tough time getting the public to listen.

    “The more fundamental problem President Obama has is that it is all about the economy.  The unemployment rate is still terrible," said DeFrank. "The U.S. economy is still growing but at a very anemic rate.”

    Many economists see little chance of a dramatic change in the jobless rate before next year’s election, which now stands at 9.1 percent.

    Since 1900, only two presidents have won re-election with jobless rates higher than seven percent-Franklin Roosevelt in 1940 and Ronald Reagan in 1984.

    American University presidential historian Allan Lichtman says it is virtually impossible for an incumbent president to escape blame for a bad economy.

    “As [former President] Herbert Hoover once said, a man who should know, ‘the president gets the credit for the sunshine and the blame for the rain’.  It is very difficult for a president of the United States to deflect blame against others,” he said.

    But Republicans do not fare well in the latest polls either.  The ABC News Washington Post survey found that only 28 percent of voters approve of Republicans in Congress, while 68 percent disapprove.

    Democratic pollster Peter Hart, who supervises the NBC Wall Street Journal poll, says Americans want lawmakers to put aside their differences and work together to help the economy.

    “All of this says, look, get back to work and do your job," said Hart. "People are struggling and they want Washington to understand it and they want the president to be able to get something done.”

    The only good news for the president in the latest polls is that his favorability rating remains higher than his approval rating, which analysts say means the public still likes Obama personally even as they lose faith in his policies.



    Jim Malone

    Jim Malone has served as VOA’s National correspondent covering U.S. elections and politics since 1995. Prior to that he was a VOA congressional correspondent and served as VOA’s East Africa Correspondent from 1986 to 1990. Jim began his VOA career with the English to Africa Service in 1983.

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