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Despite two good months, Obama’s approval hasn’t budged

at 11:51 AM ET, 03/08/2012

The past two months have been unquestionably good to President Obama’s political prospects this November. Let’s review:

* The economy started to shows signs of recovery.

* Republicans got mired in a debate for contraception, with conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh unhelpfully inserting himself and, in the process, pouring lighter fluid on the controversy.

* Congress agreed to a payroll tax extension

* The GOP primary is still going (and going), and polls show voters don’t like any of the options.

There’s an argument to be made that January and February have been Obama’s best two months since his first 60 days in office.

Yet his Gallup ratings have stayed stagnant over the past two months, with an average of 47 percent disapproving of the job he is doing and 45 percent approving. (Caveat: Some surveys do show improvement in Obama’s numbers over the past month, to about even 48 percent approval/disapproval.)

What does the lack of movement in Obama’s numbers tell us? That while some voters are persuadable — the president has climbed out of the low approval hole he was in last fall — the vast majority of Americans have made their minds up about the president and will be difficult to sway.

Events — even those deemed as “big deals” by those inside the Beltway — don’t seem to have much of any impact on Obama’s numbers. The numbers, in one of the Fix’s least favorite phrases, are what they are. And they ain’t likely to change.

What that means for the fall election is that it’s likely to be very close. “We always expected a close and competative election given the historic challenges facing America when the President took office,” spokesman Ben LaBolt said.) Assuming Obama starts with about 45 percent of the vote that won’t leave him under almost any circumstances, and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney starts with a similarly locked-in 45 percent, the two men will be battling for 10 percent of the electorate.

 
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