Problems For The President: Americans Give Him Lowest Approval Rating Ever

September 23, 2011, 5:00 PM GMT+0

This week’s Economist/YouGov Poll is full of bad news for President Barack Obama. The frontrunners for the GOP nomination in the 2012 contest are pulling very close to him in head-to-head matchups, and his approval rating has been at or near the lowest levels of his Presidency for the last few weeks. And the worrisome economy keeps it there: this week just 36% approve of the way he is handing his job overall, the lowest rating ever in the two and a half years of his Presidency. 

More than half the public — 56% — disapproves of the President’s performance.

There are several other indications in the poll of how opinion about the President has changed over time. Well over half the country has concerns about what the President says. 57% believes most of what he says is what he wants people to hear, and not what he really believes. That is one point short of the highest percentage recorded on this question in this poll.

In addition, the President now receives negative assessments from the public on a number of characteristics. The Economist/YouGov Poll asks respondents whether or not they would use certain words to describe the President. Many respondents aren’t sure one way or the other on some words. But more than half (55%) say the President is intelligent and only 15% do not think that. This view has been fairly consistent throughout the Obama Presidency.

But for some of those adjectives, the trend has been decidedly negative. Just 15% would describe him as “effective,” while 40% would not. At the beginning of 2010, Americans were evenly divided on this. 

Even Democrats are hesitant to describe the President as “effective.” Only 28% of them would. And the number of Democratic voters who would like someone to challenge the President to be their party’s nominee has risen this week. 20% would like to see someone else as the nominee, compared to 15% last week. 

In matchups against the major Republican contenders for the 2012 election, President Obama maintains a narrow four-point lead over Texas Governor Rick Perry. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is in a statistical dead heat with the President (including those who lean one way or the other). 

Economist/YouGov poll archives can found here.

Photo source: Press Association

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