Well over a month ago, Sean Trende warned me that the numbers had started to shift away from Barack Obama, and that his election-cycle rise in approval had come to an end.  We have seen that in a number of polls already, and last night Pew confirmed it with its latest survey results — and in a big way.  Obama has dropped eight points since his re-election, and five points since his win on tax rates in January:

Barack Obama’s job approval rating has tumbled since shortly after his re-election, as the public’s economic expectations for the coming year have soured. Despite substantial public awareness of recent gains in the stock market and rebounding real-estate values, the percentage saying economic conditions will get worse over the next year has risen to its highest point in nearly eight years.

Obama’s job approval measure has fallen eight points since December, from 55% to 47%. His rating is comparable to George W. Bush’s (45%) at the same point early in his second term and is much lower than Bill Clinton’s 60% rating in February 1997.

He’s still doing better than Congressional Republicans on the economy, at 53/39.  However, surveys of this type beg the response.  Presidents have higher profiles and people invest more confidence naturally in an individual executive to get things done; by definition, Congress is a committee.  Even the party caucuses are committees, and people don’t put a lot of confidence in committees, and perhaps especially not in Congress.

And even that may not last long.  Pew also reports that Americans have grown significantly more pessimistic about the economy:

When it comes to views of the national economy, most Americans do not think a recovery has taken hold. Just 27% say that the economy is recovering, while 31% say it will recover soon and 40% say it will be a long time before the economy recovers. These views have changed little over the past year.

Looking ahead, the public’s forecast for the national economy has deteriorated. A year ago, nearly three times as many Americans expected the economy to be better as worse in the next year (44% vs. 14%). Today, just a quarter (25%) expect economic conditions to be better a year from now, while nearly a third (32%) say conditions will be worse.

Part of this is a backfire from Obama’s Nightmare on Sequester Street public-relations strategy.  He painted a scary picture of economic doom, selling it 24/7 on news programs and speeches, with his Cabinet Secretaries warning of imminent disaster at airports, in employment, and in every area of American life.  Even those demagogic horror stories failed to materialize, the tone had to have impacted the way Americans see the economy.  That will make it much more difficult to keep insisting on a stay-the-course economic strategy.

Of course, Obama could use that unrest to argue for even more tax hikes and “stimulus” spending, but he’s been doing that ever since his big win on tax hikes on New Years Day.  That doesn’t appear to be lifting his approval rating or his credibility.  The necessary support Obama needs for that kind of policy is eroding underneath his feet.