Driving the downward movement in Obama’s standing are renewed concerns about the economy and fresh worry about rising prices, particularly for gasoline. Despite signs of economic growth, 44 percent of Americans see the economy as getting worse, the highest percentage to say so in more than two years.
The toll on Obama is direct: 57 percent disapprove of the job the president is doing dealing with the economy, tying his highest negative rating when it comes to the issue. And the president is doing a bit worse among politically important independents.
If Obama is running into headwinds, however, his potential Republican opponents face serious problems, as well. Less than half of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say they are satisfied with the field of GOP candidates.
That field is still taking shape, but the sentiment is a big falloff from four years ago, when nearly two-thirds of Republicans were satisfied with their options.
Lack of enthusiasm for the candidates came in other measures, as well. When Republicans and GOP-leaners were asked who they would vote for in a primary or caucus, only former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney registered in double digits, with 16 percent. More than double that number expressed no opinion and an additional 12 percent volunteered “none” or “no one.”
Businessman Donald Trump (8 percent), former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee (6 percent) and former Alaska governor Sarah Palin (5 percent) were the only other names volunteered by more than 2 percent of respondents.
In hypothetical matchups for the general election, the president runs ahead of all seven potential GOP rivals tested in the new poll.
If the election were held now, Romney and Huckabee would mount the stiffest challenges, trailing Obama by four and six percentage points respectively, among all Americans as well as among registered voters.
Obama has double-digit leads over the other five tested — a dozen points against Trump and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), 15 against Newt Gingrich and former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty and 17 points over Palin.
Despite his current advantage over the Republican field, Obama remains vulnerable with an approval rating again less than 50 percent. A majority of those younger than 40 give the president positive ratings, but most of those 40 and older disapprove.
Obama’s standing shows he has lost his post-midterm election gains. His 54 percent rating in January followed a well-received speech at a memorial service for the victims of the Tucson shootings, and came after a lame-duck congressional session during which he scored a series of legislative achievements.