Shameful. We should be thanking him, you know.

The 46% who say Obama deserves re-election is similar to his recent job approval ratings, which have been running just under 50%. The current results also echo what Gallup found recently when it asked voters whether they would be more likely to vote for Obama or the Republican candidate in the 2012 presidential election…

The current numbers for Obama are similar to what Gallup found for Bill Clinton at almost precisely the same point in his presidency, in late March 1994. In that poll, 46% of Americans (the survey did not identify registered voters) said Clinton deserved to be re-elected and 48% said he did not…

In late 1991 and early 1992, Americans were more inclined to say the elder George Bush deserved than did not deserve re-election. However, over the course of 1992, his approval rating dropped and voters ended up voting him out of office in favor of Clinton.

Consider this a reminder on why I think Romney’s still in contention for the nomination, RomneyCare notwithstanding: Stuff happens. A lot of stuff, and very quickly. That said, I do think these numbers are significant for two reasons. First, the split here among Democrats is a robust 84/12, which makes the poll of Jewish voters that I flagged yesterday seem that much more significant. They split 42/46 on the similar question of whether they’d vote to reelect Obama today or whether they’d consider someone else. Not an identical query to the one Gallup asked, but close enough to make me think there really, truly are some deep misgivings about this guy among Jewish Democrats. Second, it may be a long time until 2012 but it’s just six short months until the midterms, and numbers like these are bound to weigh the Dems down. The latest temperature check: Charlie Cook and Stuart Rothenberg both see gains of 25-30 seats in the bank, but both note that considerably larger gains are possible if current political trends continue. In fact, so gruesome are the Dems’ prospects that heretic pollsters Doug Schoen and Pat Caddell are now encouraging them to … woo the tea-party movement. Harry Reid in a Thomas Paine costume? Dare to dream, my friends.

Update: Meant to flag this ominous point from Cook. A sweet November could mean a bitter 2012:

Despite all of this disagreement over whether the House will flip, there is pretty much of a consensus in the political community that President Obama’s chances of getting re-elected will rise if his party loses the House or Senate. (In my book, the latter is quite unlikely.)

There are two arguments supporting the notion that the president might benefit from divided government. First, a GOP-controlled House would provide Obama with a foil. Republicans would have some governing responsibility; Democrats wouldn’t “own” Washington and automatically get the blame for everything that does or doesn’t happen. A strong case can be made that President Clinton would not have been re-elected in 1996 had Democrats not lost control of Congress in 1994.

The second contention is that losing control of the House would allow (or force) Obama to take a more centrist approach, to replicate the “triangulation” that worked well for Clinton in 1995 and 1996. Positioning himself and his administration as less liberal than congressional Democrats and less conservative than congressional Republicans, Clinton became the moderate honest broker in policy, riding that course to victory over Republican Bob Dole.