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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Obama Approval: Tracking the Potential Causes and Effects

With President Obama hitting new lows in both our daily and weekly averages of his job approval rating in recent days, many are speculating about both the potential causes and implications.

First, the potential causes. We're going into the field tonight with questions gauging how much attention Americans are paying to the Manhattan mosque debate and what they thought about the president's comments on the issue. Certainly the topic is generating a lot of discussion and strong opinions in the media, but since we know Americans place little confidence in newspapers and television news, it's important to find out what Americans themselves really think.

In the meantime, let's not forget about everything else that is going on. Underemployment remains basically stuck at 18.3%. Americans see the economy and jobs as the most important problems facing the country. About one in four workers remains worried about being laid off, or having their pay or benefits cut.

What's more, even when Obama's approval rating was a little higher earlier this month, a majority of Americans disapproved of his handling of 8 of 13 prominent issues, including the situations in both Iraq and Afghanistan, immigration, and the federal budget deficit.

So, on the cause side, there's certainly a lot to consider. Our tracking will show, over the next few days, whether the current climate -- higher disapproval than approval -- is here for the short- or long-term.

On the implications side, we know that, historically, it doesn't go well for the president's party in congressional midterm elections when presidential approval is below 50%. Additionally, Republicans are in their best position yet in our tracking of the generic ballot for Congress -- both in terms of registered voters' support and enthusiasm about voting.

In terms of the president's own re-election, former Presidents Clinton and Reagan both saw similar job approval numbers in August of their second year as president and went on to be re-elected.

Of course, every story is unique, which is why we're tracking the many shades of all of the issues affecting the U.S., its leadership, and its people.

To get all of our stories as soon as they are published, including the findings of our polling on the mosque debate, sign up to receive All Gallup Headlines via e-mail alert or RSS.


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