New weekly tracking numbers from Gallup show that economic confidence in the country is at its lowest ebb since late January, a bad sign for President Obama as he seeks to convince the public that the financial health of the country is getting slowly but surely better.

The latest Gallup Economic Confidence Index, which combines how people feel about the current economic conditions in the country and what the future holds for the economy, stands at -26.

Here’s Gallup’s chart detailing their Economic Confidence Index measure going back to September 2011.

Yes, we are far from the deep economic pessimism of the fall of 2011 and, yes, questions have been raised more broadly about Gallup’s data.

But, as we have written 100 times — give or take a few — in the past year, perception matters as much (if not more) than reality when it comes to the politics of the economy. If peoples’ confidence in the economy is faltering, then it badly complicates President Obama’s attempts to convince them that things are, in fact, getting better.

This is one poll — and one poll taken more than four months before the presidential vote. And, as Gallup’s Jenny Marlar notes in a memo on the results:

“In the coming weeks, a decline in the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ U.S. unemployment number for June could help improve confidence, as could falling gas prices, which immediately affect the pocketbooks of Americans, if the price declines continue as expected.”

Absolutely. But, the trend line on economic confidence isn’t encouraging for President Obama and his allies. It just isn’t.