According to the most recent Gallup survey, President Obama’s job approval rating averaged 46 percent in June.
The president’s strongest support comes from blacks (86 percent), adults aged 18 to 29 (54 percent), those living in the East (53 percent), and Hispanics (52 percent). This is in addition to 81 percent approval from Democrats, 75 percent from liberals, and 55 percent from moderates. On the flip side, Obama’s support is lowest among Republicans (14 percent), conservatives (24 percent), whites (38 percent), seniors (39 percent), and those living in the South (40 percent).
Perhaps the most alarming decline in support for Obama is among Hispanics, which has dropped from 73 percent during January-December 2009 to the current figure of 52 percent. That large of a drop in support (21 points) among that significant of a demographic group would be worrisome for any candidate seeking re-election. It also seems to undercut the argument the GOP’s stance on illegal immigration would deeply alienate Hispanics and drive them into the arms of Democrats for generations to come.
Obama’s job approval rating isn’t catastrophic for a president seeking re-election, but it is in a danger zone. His approval numbers will need to go up if he hopes to win re-election. (A president wants an approval rating of at least 48 percent on Election Day; anything below that becomes problematic. No president with a Gallup approval of 47 percent or less has won re-election.)
The greater danger for Obama, though, is that, in the words of Democratic pollster Mark Penn, “the country is going through one of its longest sustained periods of unhappiness and pessimism ever.” The president is inextricably tied to that unhappiness and pessimism; he is seen as responsible, at least in part, for our national decline (almost four in 10 Americans believe we’re in a state of permanent decline, a strikingly large figure). That’s a significant problem for Obama to overcome — and unless the economy turns around, it’s not entirely clear how he will do so. I’m sure that same thought has crossed the minds of David Axelrod and David Plouffe as well.