Obama troubles part one: Economy — President Obama tops Republicans in Congress, 46 to 37 percent, as more trustworthy on handling the economy in a CNN poll released Wednesday. While it is better to be ahead than behind on this measure, it’s no ringing endorsement for the president. Congress remains near record lows at just 15 percent approval in recent Gallup polling. That compares with 43 percent approval for Obama, his lowest in CNN polling.

More worrisome for Obama is the fact that 58 percent say they are no better off than they were three years ago. That finding is reinforced in a Bloomberg poll released Wednesday in which 44 percent say they are worse off than at the beginning of 2009. CNN and Bloomberg find decidedly worse assessments on the look-back question than the early September Washington Post-ABC News poll which found a 35 to 15 percent split between worse and better with 50 percent reporting that they are about the same financially. Neither CNN nor Bloomberg offered a “same” category in their question, allowing respondents to volunteer such a response.

Further economic troubles for Obama are highlighted in a National Journal poll released Tuesday in which just one in five believe his economic policies have improved the economy. Fewer than half of all major demographic and political groups feel that way. Even among Obama’s staunchest supporters, African Americans, only four in 10 say he has improved things.

One bit of brighter news for Obama is that majorities react positively to the specific jobs initiatives laid out in last Thursday’s speech. Both the CNN and National Journal polls find majority support for these policies. But a 51 percent majority in the new Bloomberg poll says Obama’s proposed “package of tax cuts, spending on public works and aid to local government” will not help lower the unemployment rate.

Obama troubles part two: California — New problems are emerging in the biggest blue state of all, California. In a new Field Poll among registered voters, he gets a mixed job rating of 46 percent approval to 44 percent disapproval. That’s a big change from June when he was at a healthier 54 to 37 approval to disapproval rating. This is the first time in Field Polls that his approval is below half in the state. He has seen no improvement in any demographic or political groups, including a 13-point drop among registered independents, from 58 to 45 percent. He’s held up among Latino voters in the state, at 59 percent approval now compared to 62 percent in June.

New Virginia poll — Republican governor Robert F. McDonnell has a sturdy 61 percent job approval rating among Virginia registered voters in a new Quinnipiac poll. Democratic Senators Mark Warner and Jim Webb also earn positive approval ratings, 64 and 51 percent each.

Ideological alignment — An analysis from the Pew Research Center released Monday finds that average voters place themselves closer to the Republican Party than the Democratic Party on the ideological spectrum from liberal to conservative. And perceptions that the Republican Party is “very conservative” have ticked up while perceptions that the Democratic Party is “very liberal” have ticked down over the past year.

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