Obama Poll Numbers Head South

President Obama’s poll numbers are starting to wilt like the infamous “green shoots.” Though he is still personally quite popular, his handling of the economy is driving down his poll numbers.

From Politico.com:

“The real driver is not the president’s personal popularity,” which remains robust, Kohut said, “but faith in him to deal with the nation’s number one problem” — i.e, the economy.

his highlights how some of Obama’s political fortunes remain outside his control, dependent on employment figures which have continued to worsen even as the federal government has spent hundreds of billions of dollars on measures to stimulate the economy and bail out the financial services sector.

Surveys released last week by Pew,NBC News/Wall Street Journaland The New York Times/CBS News, show a similar pattern. The Pew survey, for example, registered an eight-point drop in public approval for Obama’s handling of the economy — falling from 60 percent to 52 percent between mid-April and June. The percentage of Americans who disapprove jumped by 7 points during the same period.

Though Democrats are still generally more supportive of the administration overall, the slide in the president’s economic numbers defied partisan boundaries. The Pew survey, for instance, showed support for Obama’s handling of the economy sliding six percentage points even among Democrats and independents.

Other factors driving the numbers include the debate over how to overhaul the nation’s healthcare system—a popular goal but one that comes with a trillion-dollar price tag.

Analyzing her firm’s latest poll,Gallup’sLydia Saad said it is “not clear what’s behind the decline” in the president’s numbers, but pointed to growing concerns over the administration’sdeficit spendingas a likely cause.

In last week’s New York Times/CBS News poll, where the president’s approval stands at 63 percent, 60 percent said the Obama administration has not developed a “clear plan” for dealing with budget deficits. Additionally, 52 percent said the government should “not spend money to stimulate the economy and should focus instead on reducing the deficit.”

Obama’s intervention in the auto industry is a source of concern — and is likely a major engine of controversy if the bailout does not show positive results over the long haul.

According to the NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey, nearly 70 percent said they were concerned “a great deal” or “quite a bit” about the government’s takeover of General Motors. Pew found a nearly even split on the administration’s approach to helping troubled automakers: 47 percent approve while 44 percent disapprove.

All of this could change in a New York minute if the economy picks up steam and particularly if there is an improvement in the unemployment numbers. Since neither of those is likely to begin happening until next year, there’s little the Obama camp can do but damage control.

The have to hope that the turn comes earlier in 2010 rather than later given the mid-term elections. I suspect that if the economy isn’t moving swiftly enough towards righting itself by the end of this year that you’ll see a full court stimulus press.

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