President Obama’s Approval Rating Hits New Low on Handling of Economy

BY Murrey Jacobson  August 18, 2011 at 8:51 AM EST

President Obama; photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

President Obama greets people Wednesday after speaking at the Country Corner Farm Market in Alpha, Ill. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

The Morning Line

President Obama’s approval rating on his handling of the economy has sunk to a new, very low 26 percent, according to a Gallup poll out Wednesday, 11 points lower than the same poll recorded in mid-May.

As voters tell pollsters over and over that jobs and the economy are their top issues, the fact that only one-quarter of Americans approve of the president’s handling of that issue is precisely the challenge facing the White House on a daily basis.

(Think back for a moment to January 2007, just as Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., was announcing his presidential campaign, largely fueled at the beginning by his stated opposition to the Iraq War, and President George W. Bush was announcing his initially unpopular surge of U.S. troops into Iraq. President Bush’s approval rating on Iraq at that point was 27 percent. That’s a strikingly similar dismal level of support for President Obama’s handling of the economy.)

President Obama’s approval rating on handling the federal deficit is 24 percent, and for creating jobs it’s just 29 percent. With unemployment stuck around 9 percent and consumer confidence at a three-decade low, according to Bloomberg, it isn’t a surprise that Americans aren’t satisfied. A look at all the negative economic numbers compiled by ProPublica is almost overwhelming.

In an interview Wednesday with CBS News, which will air Sunday, President Obama addressed the weak economy.

“I don’t think we’re in danger of another recession but we are in danger of not having a recovery that’s fast enough to deal with what is a genuine unemployment crisis for a whole lot of folks out there and that’s why we need to be doing more,” President Obama told CBS senior business correspondent Anthony Mason.

The new polling is just a reminder that the 2012 election will likely focus on the state of the economy and whether President Obama did enough to improve it — and how Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry or someone else claim they could do a better job.

In September, the White House will unveil a new jobs plan, as well as advocate for more deficit reduction, despite the likelihood that the president will have a hard time passing anything through Congress because of Republican opposition.

The Washington Post’s Zachary Goldfarb and Peter Wallsten have the details:

“The president is thinking about proposing tax cuts for companies that hire workers, new spending for roads and construction, and other measures that would target the long-term unemployed, according to administration officials and other people familiar with the matter. Some ideas, such as providing mortgage relief for struggling homeowners, could come through executive action.

“Obama also plans to announce a major push for new deficit reduction, urging the special congressional committee formed in the debt-ceiling deal this month to identify even more savings than the $1.5 trillion it has been tasked with finding.

“In packaging the two, he will make the case that short-term spending can lead to long-term savings.

“‘We can’t afford to just do one or the other. We’ve got to do both,’ Obama said Wednesday in this farming town in northwestern Illinois, population 671, the last stop of his three-day bus tour through the rural Midwest.”

But before the jobs push, the president is taking a 10-day vacation to Martha’s Vineyard, which has already drawn Republican criticism. CBS White House radio correspondent Mark Knoller has the details on how much vacation the president has taken so far and how it compares to past presidents at this moment in their first term:

“Knoller reports Mr. Obama has taken 61 days vacation so far. At the same point in their presidencies, George W. Bush had spent 180 days at his ranch where his staff often joined him for meetings. And Ronald Reagan spent 112 days at his ranch. Among recent presidents, Bill Clinton took the least time off — 28 days.”

CHRISTIE RULES OUT RUN. . . AGAIN

We’ve lost count with regard to the number of times New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has ruled out a 2012 presidential run, but after Bloomberg View’s Jonathan Alter tweeted that Christie was conducting focus groups testing the 2012 waters, the governor offered yet another rejection.

The New Jersey Star Ledger’s Ginger Gibson provides Gov. Christie’s response:

“I said this answer isn’t changing and I don’t see any reason why it would…So I don’t know what else to say about this, fact of the matter is I guess I have to resign myself to the idea that until the filing deadline for Iowa passes that I’m going to continue to be asked. That’s fine, you know the only thing that pains me about it is that it squeezes out other things that I wish you all were asking me about.”

The governor’s closest political aides immediately said the report about the Christie operation conducting focus groups was not true.

A few hours after the original tweet, Alter went back to his sources.

“Sources doing own focus groups that they made seem Christie semi-authorized. Wishful thinking,” Alter tweeted.

With the rumors of a presidential run once again put to bed, the speculation surrounding Christie being tapped as the eventual nominee’s running mate has once again entered the ether.

Maggie Haberman of POLITICO takes an early look at the veepstakes.

“Given the attack-dog role of the second on the ticket — and his appeal to conservative thinkers — Christie continues to rate highly…”

“[I]t is hard to see him wanting to become someone’s No. 2 — or, as he’s noted, seeing someone truly wanting him in that role, given the likelihood he could overshadow the top of the ticket.”

LABOR UNIONS WILL NOT SIT OUT 2012

Despite grumblings in the Democratic base about disappointment in President Obama and his willingness to cede turf and compromise with Republicans, the political director of the AFL-CIO has made it clear that labor will still be in his corner next year.

The Hill’s Michael O’Brien and Kevin Bogardus provide the must-read, pre-Labor Day look at labor’s political plans for 2012.

Organized labor won’t sit out President Obama’s re-election campaign and let a Republican win the presidency, the AFL-CIO’s political director said Wednesday.



Despite frustration over the deals the administration has cut with congressional Republicans, President Obama still provides a better alternative to a Republican president, said Michael Podhorzer, the labor federation’s top politics officer.

“I don’t think that the labor movement will be on the sidelines with President Obama,” he said in a sit-down interview with The Hill Wednesday.

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