Obama’s real 2012 concern: economic angst

Forget Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, Haley Barbour or, yes, even Donald Trump. The biggest obstacle for President Obama as he seeks re-election may be the state of the American economy and not his Republican rival, a new poll finds.

The ABC News/Washington Post survey released Tuesday finds that 47% of Americans now approve of the president’s job performance, down 4 points in the last month and just off his all-time low of 46% in the heat of the midterm campaign.

Only 42% of respondents approve of how Obama is handling the economy, his lowest score since taking office.

The president on Tuesday begins a week-long, cross-country tour to try and convince voters he has the best plan to tackle the nation’s deficits and debt. Rising fuel prices and brinkmanship on Capitol Hill over spending have largely overshadowed his post-State of the Union “Winning the Future” message.

Seven-in-10 voters surveyed say the rising cost of gasoline has caused a financial hardship, including 43% who describe that as serious.


Looking ahead to 2012, 45% of respondents said they definitely will not support Obama’s re-election, compared to 28% who said they definitely will.

Republicans seem unhappy with the field of candidates looking to challenge Obama so far, however. Only 43% say they are satisfied with the field, down from 65% who said so at a similar point in the 2008 campaign.

Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, leads the field in a national horserace at 16%, while Trump scores 8%. Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin, two prominent Republicans whose plans remain a mystery, score 6% and 5%, respectively, while the rest of the field registers no more than 2%.

In head-to-head matchups, Obama leads all potential rivals. Romney comes closest, trailing 49-45%.

The survey of 1,001 adults was conducted April 14-17, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5%.