Tailspin: Obama's numbers on economy reach new low in NBC/WSJ poll

He ended up with an overall bounce because of Bin Laden, of course — from 49/45 last month to 52/41 now, with sharp spikes in his ratings on foreign policy, being a strong commander-in-chief, etc. But he was as high as 53/41 overall as recently as January. The reason it’s a modest bounce is because, on pocketbook issues, people have started to give up Hope of any Change:

Only 37 percent approve of the president’s handling of the economy, while 58 percent disapprove.

Also, just 31 percent believe the economy will improve in the next 12 months, compared with 43 percent who think it will stay the same and another 25 percent who say it will get worse.

These economic numbers, GOP pollster McInturff says, underscore the “tremendous anchor the economy is to the president’s job standing.”…

The good: The U.S. economy added 268,000 private-sector jobs in April, the most since 2006. The bad: Average gasoline prices have reached nearly $4 per gallon, and the unemployment rate increased from 8.8 percent to 9.0 percent.

Note that the partisan sample in this poll, if you include leaners, is a ridiculous 44/31 in favor of Democrats, so his true economic numbers are actually several points worse than this. His previous rock-bottom rating was 39/56 last August, but as noted in the piece, gas prices and the unemployment uptick have left the country exasperated — or so I assume. One of the curiosities from the crosstabs is that people’s pessimism about the economy isn’t sharply higher or lower than it’s been in previous months. This month, those who say things will get better/worse/stay the same over the next year is 31/25/43; last month it was 33/21/46 and in February it was 29/29/41. It seems like the public’s bouncing around between cautious optimism that a solid recovery is finally under way and frustration upon discovering that it isn’t. As I said in another post recently, I think that’s dangerous for O insofar as it conditions people to think of good economic news as fool’s gold, something that’ll quickly be undone in next month’s economic report or the one after that. That’s a bad vibe to have when you’re trying to build momentum for a reelection bid.

And yet, dissatisfaction with the GOP is helping him out:

I don’t know what to make of last month’s blip followed by this month. Maybe it’s an artifact of Bin Laden goodwill or maybe the public’s getting fed up with the current thinness of the Republican field. Flag it now and let’s see what happens next month after more candidates have jumped in and campaigning has picked up.

I’ll leave you with the following data point. Remember how, all last week, there were news stories quoting Hillary and Bob Gates to the effect that killing Bin Laden might make the Taliban more willing to reach a peace deal so we can finally get out of Afghanistan? Well, if the White House thought OBL was their ticket out, they’re in for a surprise. Behold: