President Barack Obama during a press conference on the debt ceiling discussions at the White House, July 11, 2011
President Barack Obama during a press conference on the debt ceiling discussions at the White House, July 11, 2011

Some new public-opinion polls contain both good and bad news for President Barack Obama looking ahead to next year?s U.S. presidential election.

The latest Reuters/Ipsos poll shows Americans increasingly pessimistic about the future.  Sixty-three percent said the country is on the wrong track now, up three points from last month.

In the latest Quinnipiac poll, voters disapprove of President Barack Obama?s handling of the economy by a margin of 56 to 38 percent.  They are also split on the question of whether Mr. Obama deserves re-election, 47 percent believe he does, but another 47 percent say no.

But there is some good news in the polling data for the president as well.  Both polls indicate that voters still hold former President George W. Bush more responsible for the current economic problems than Mr. Obama.  And the Quinnipiac survey found that Americans trust the president more than congressional Republicans to handle the economy, though only by a narrow margin.

Peter Brown is the assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling institute. ?Presidential elections in which there is an incumbent in the Oval Office tend to be referendums on the incumbent.  Things are good for the president, [but] they are not great.  When we asked voters whether he deserves a second term, the voters split right down the middle,? Brown said.

Obama Ahead of Potential Republican Candidates

Mr. Obama also got some good news in the survey when he was matched up with potential Republican presidential candidates next year.

Brown says the president holds a small lead over the current Republican frontrunner, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.  The poll also found that Mr. Obama has a larger advantage over Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and two other potential candidates, former Alaska governor Sarah Palin and Texas Governor Rick Perry.

?Mr. Obama remains ahead and it is always better to be ahead than behind.  He is ahead of Mr. Romney by six points, which is what he was when Quinnipiac surveyed in June.  He is ahead by double-digits over Mr. Perry, Ms. Bachmann and Ms. Palin,? Brown said.

Palin says she will announce whether she will run for president by early September.  Perry is considering joining the Republican field, but has not said when he will announce a decision.

The Quinnipiac poll found Romney leading the Republican presidential field with 25 percent support, followed by Bachmann at 14 percent, Palin at 12 percent and Perry at 10 percent.  The rest of the crowded Republican presidential field registered six percent or less.

Bachmann gaining

Pollster Brown says Michele Bachmann appears to be gaining momentum among conservative Republicans looking for an alternative to former governor Romney.    

?Obviously Ms. Bachmann is a savvy campaigner.  She is concentrating a lot on Iowa and she is doing pretty well, and the question is whether she can sustain this or not,? Broan said.

Despite President Obama?s advantages in the new polls, pollster John Zogby says the public boost the president got back in May following the killing of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden has largely faded, setting the stage for a very competitive re-election race next year.

?He has lost the impact of bin Laden, at least in the immediate term.  Unemployment is headed in the wrong direction.  People are pretty scared.  He has got to get independents back and at the same time he has to get back to energizing that solid base that he once had among blacks, Hispanics, young people and so on,? Zogby said.

The president also got some good news on the campaign front with regard to fundraising.  His campaign raised $86 million during the past three months while Republican presidential contenders reported raising a combined total of about $35 million.

The top Republican fundraiser was Mitt Romney who brought in more than $18 million in recent months.  Romney was also the top fundraiser in the 2008 race for the Republican Party?s presidential nomination, but eventually lost to Senator John McCain.