Increasingly troubled by the economy, more Americans are convinced the country is headed in the wrong direction and fewer approve of President Barack Obama's economic stewardship. The sentiments pose a new complication for the president's re-election hopes and create an obstacle to a recovery that relies in part on public perceptions.
For the first time this year, less than 50 percent of respondents to an Associated Press-GfK poll say Obama deserves re-election. The new poll shows a virtual split of 48-47 in favor, raising a new hurdle for the president as economic concerns strip away the gloss he briefly gained in May after the death of Osama bin Laden.
What's more, four out of five now believe the economy is in poor shape, with 36 percent calling it "very poor," a new high in AP-GfK polling.
The survey findings track with recent independent data that show a dip in consumer confidence, and they reflect the May uptick in unemployment and a stubbornly depressed housing market. Amid anemic hiring, high gas prices and financial turmoil in Europe, Americans are increasingly interested in saving — not spending — their money, adding yet another constraint to the economic recovery.
Yet, 16 months before the November 2012 elections, Obama also is perceived favorably by 56 percent of respondents and 52 percent approve of his job performance overall. Despite the overwhelming sentiment that the national economy is in poor shape, more than three of five of those polled rated the financial situation of their own households as good. And, echoing previous findings, about three-quarters of the survey participants said it is unrealistic to expect noticeable results on the economy in one term.