A little over two weeks ago, Gallup found that the most important issues on the minds of voters are the economy, jobs, and the federal budget deficit. Today’s Gallup poll shows Obama more than twenty points underwater on all three issues, and above 60% disapproval on two of them:
Three months before the election, President Barack Obama gets good marks from Americans for his handling of terrorism, fair marks for education and foreign affairs, but poor marks on immigration and three big economic issues: the federal budget deficit, creating jobs, and the economy generally.
Historically speaking, this is bad news for Obama’s re-election efforts:
Obama’s ratings on the economy are significantly worse than all three prior successful presidential incumbents at this same point in their first term, according to the available Gallup trends. His 36% approval rating on the economy is well below George W. Bush’s rating in August 2004 (46%), Bill Clinton’s in August 1996 (54%), and Ronald Reagan’s in July 1984 (50%). Still, in terms of comparisons to presidents who lost, Obama’s economic rating is substantially better than that of George H.W. Bush in July 1992 (18%). Gallup did not measure Americans’ approval of Jimmy Carter on the economy in 1980.
Reagan was, however, at 48% on job creation at that time as well as 50% on the economy, and 52% overall in job approval rating. Carter was at 37% overall and Bush 41 at 32% overall approval, the only two presidents since Ford to be under 50%. Of all the predictive indicators, this one might worry Obama most, currently at 45% and dropping.
The low marks on the most vital issues at this time, though, show the difficulty for his campaign to run on his record, or even new ideas … if Obama had any. His campaign hasn’t even yet articulated a second-term agenda except to continue the policies that have him at 36/60 on the economy and 30/64 on the federal budget. Even the Associated Press has given up pretending that today’s economic conditions are expected and cyclical.
Small wonder that the entire Obama/Biden strategy this week has been Seamus the Roof Riding Dog and a dog-whistle reference to slavery. Meanwhile, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan continue to focus on jobs, the economy, and budget deficits — the most vulnerable place to hit the Obama/Biden ticket.