By 2 to 1, Americans say the country is pretty seriously on the wrong track, and nine in 10 continue to rate the economy in negative terms. Nearly six in 10 say the economy has not started to recover, regardless of what official statistics may say, and most of those who say it has improved rate the recovery as weak.
New Post-ABC numbers show Obama leading five of six potential Republican presidential rivals tested in the poll. But he is in a dead heat with former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who formally announced his 2012 candidacy last week, making jobs and the economy the central issues in his campaign.
Among all Americans, Obama and Romney are knotted at 47 percent each, and among registered voters, the former governor is numerically ahead, 49 percent to 46 percent.
Overall, about six in 10 of those surveyed give Obama negative marks on the economy and the deficit. Significantly, nearly half strongly disapprove of his performance in these two crucial areas. Nearly two-thirds of political independents disapprove of the president’s handling of the economy, including — for the first time — a slim majority who do so strongly.
In another indicator of rapidly shifting views on economic issues, 45 percent trust congressional Republicans over the president when it comes to dealing with the economy, an 11-point improvement for the GOP since March. Still, nearly as many, 42 percent, side with Obama on this issue.
The president has sought to point to progress on the economy, particularly in the automobile industry, and to argue that the policies he put in place at the beginning of his term are working. But the combined effects of weak economic indicators and dissatisfaction among the public are adding to the political pressures on the White House as the president’s advisers look toward what could be a difficult 2012 reelection campaign.
Meanwhile, Romney emerges in the new survey as the strongest current or prospective Republican candidate in the 2012 presidential field. Although he is by no means in a secure spot, on virtually every measure, the former governor appears better positioned than any of his rivals.
In contrast, the poll brings more bad news for former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, whose bus tour along the East Coast last week renewed speculation that she might join the race.
Almost two-thirds of all Americans say they “definitely would not” vote for Palin for president. She is predictably unpopular with Democrats and most independents, but the new survey underscores the hurdles she would face if she became a candidate: 42 percent of Republicans say they’ve ruled out supporting her candidacy.