The latest findings come after the compromise agreement between Obama and Republicans to cut spending in the current fiscal year. It also comes less than a week after the president outlined his proposals for dealing with the country’s debt and deficit problems in a speech that included a withering attack on a Republican proposal by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).
It is Obama’s standing among independents that is a prime cause for concern inside the White House and Obama reelection campaign.
Widespread Republican dissatisfaction with field of GOP presidential candidates
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), chairman of the budget committee, discussed raising the debt ceiling, spending cuts, and tax reform. (April 17)
Washington Post-ABC News Poll data
See the full results
Independents backed Obama and other Democrats in 2008, but those who voted last year went decisively for Republicans. Obama’s political advisers are closely monitoring independents and many of his moves in the past few months have been aimed at shoring up their support.
Among independents, 55 percent disapprove of the job he is doing, near record highs. And for the first time, about as many independents have generally unfavorable (49 percent) as mostly favorable (50 percent) impressions of Obama.
In the hypothetical 2012 matchups, Romney and Huckabee run a touch higher than Obama among independents.
Then-President Ronald Reagan was also below 50 percent at this point in 1983, but April of that year marked the last time before his 1984 landslide that he did not have majority approval in Post-ABC polling. In spring 1995, then-President Bill Clinton was also on the upswing, falling below 50 percent only in June of that year.
Gas prices an indicator
Economic issues remain the biggest potential obstacle to Obama’s reelection, with rising gas prices a sensitive indicator for the public. Almost eight in 10 say inflation in their area is getting worse, and more than seven in 10 say higher gasoline prices is causing financial hardship at home.
Obama trails all seven Republicans among those who see the economy as getting worse — Republicans are more apt than Democrats to perceive weakening — and the president runs about evenly with potential competitors among those who report being the hardest hit by skyrocketing prices at the pump.
Economic anxiety also amplifies the president’s challenges among core voter groups: For the first time in available data, more than half of whites without college degrees see the economy as deteriorating.
The telephone poll was conducted April 14-17 among a random national sample of 1,001 adults interviewed on conventional or cellular telephone. The margin of sampling error for the full poll is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points; it is five points for the sample of self-identified Republicans and GOP-leaning independents.
Polling manager Peyton M. Craighill contributed to this report.