Brutal: Obama's job approval -- and favorable rating -- hit new lows in NYT poll

His job approval’s been sinking for weeks along with the state of the economy and now stands at 43/50 in this poll. More significantly, though, this is the first time he’s been underwater on personal likeability. I wonder why. Is it a simple matter of unhappiness with someone’s performance inevitably bleeding over into unhappiness with them? Or, per Dennis Miller, have there finally been a few too many insinuations about the opposition putting party over country to maintain that Bambi-esque image?

For the first time, more Americans have an unfavorable opinion of President Obama than have a favorable opinion of him, according to a new CBS News/New York Times poll released late Friday, an indication that dissatisfaction with the president’s job performance and the direction of the country is dragging down how Americans view Obama personally.

Just 39 percent of Americans have a favorable opinion of Obama, while 42 percent view him unfavorably. In January of this year, 40 percent had a favorable image of Obama, and 34 percent had an unfavorable opinion. In January 2009, as he was inaugurated, 60 percent of Americans had a favorable opinion of him.

While the president’s approval rating — which is down to 43 percent in the new poll, an all-time low — is an important indicator of his re-election standing, the high regard Americans felt for Obama personally was a sign that Americans hadn’t yet given up on his presidency.

Is that it? Have people finally given up? If he’s underwater now, imagine what his numbers will look like when the Democrats break out the rhetorical brass knuckles next year for the GOP nominee.

As for his disintegrating job approval, there’s no mystery. Behold the trend when voters are asked whether the economy’s getting better, worse, or staying the same.

The closer we get to a double dip, the further down O gets dragged. In fact, a near-majority has already braced itself:

Thirty-nine percent say the economy is “fairly bad” and 49 percent say it’s “very bad,” the highest number since April 2009. Endgame for Obama’s re-election chances, then? I’m not so sure. Compare the following two data points:

A majority says Obama hasn’t made any real progress in fixing the economy — but a (smaller) majority now also says that it’s … not his problem! Can I quote myself here? From a post written on June 22:

I think it could go two ways if he doesn’t turn things around by next year. One: The public will continue to cut him lots of slack well into 2012, but as the election approaches and they realize that this will be their last chance until 2016 to change course, they’ll bail and we’ll see a rapid snowball effect among those blaming him for not fixing the economy. Or two: The public will decide that the current recession is so uniquely horrible, unlike anything since the Great Depression, that it’s unfair to expect any president to make major strides in just one term, which will have the ironic effect of partly neutralizing the economy as an electoral issue. That’s completely counterintuitive given its singular importance right now (fully 93 percent in this poll say the economy is extremely or very important to them, an all-time high), but paradoxically the worse things get, the easier it is for Obama to frame slow growth and chronically high unemployment as some sort of mega-quake or force majeure for which no one could reasonably be expected to have been prepared.

I think maybe we’re starting to see that here. The economy was, is, and will remain his biggest liability, but the plain truth is that this is no ordinary recession. The more keenly voters are aware of that — and the new crisis in the Eurozone is driving the point home — the more equivocal they’ll be about apportioning blame. Which is ironic, of course, since this was the guy who sold himself as an agent of change so miraculous that the oceans would cease to rise once he was sworn in. That mystique is gone for good, but I’m not sure the chance of a second term is.

Plus, he’s still got a handy dandy weapon to wield against the GOP, especially if Perry’s the nominee:

People are slightly more open to reform rather than tax hikes to keep trying to prop the programs up, but despite the GOP’s months-long education campaign to explain how massive the costs involved are, a greater number say entitlements are worth the burden now than said so last April. Brutal.

Via Greg Hengler, here’s Jim Cramer affirming that business leaders, at least, are more than willing to lay the blame for the economy at Obama’s feet.