Gas prices burn Obama as approval rating plummets

Barack Obama (Reuters / Jonathan Ernst)
There’s still more than half a year until voters in the US hit the polls to elect a president, and it’s looking more and more likely to be a rough time for the incumbent. The latest polls have President Barack Obama slipping in support again.

The Washington Post and ABC News released the results of their latest presidential poll over the weekend, and the verdict isn’t very favorable for US President Barack Obama. According to a recent survey of 1,003 adults, the president’s job approval rating is at a four-month lull, and more American’s disapprove of Obama’s efforts now than last November. Additionally, the responses from those polled suggest that the president might have a harder time than expected come Election Day: the published results put the president neck-and-neck with some Republican Party frontrunners, even losing to Mitt Romney if Americans were to vote today.

High gas prices, a talking point that Obama’s GOP opponents have used time and time again to attack the president, seems to be the impetus for the growing opposition. "Nearly two-thirds of Americans say they disapprove of the way the president is handling the situation at the pump, where rising prices have already hit hard," the Washington Post notes in their report. "Just 26 percent approve of his work on the issue, his lowest rating in the poll."

Coincidently, the Obama administration readdressed gas concerns moments after the results of the poll were published.

"Despite the gains we've made, today's high gas prices are a painful reminder that there's much more work to do free ourselves from our dependence on foreign oil and take control of our energy future," Obama writes in a release dated Monday. "And that's exactly what our administration is committed to doing in the months ahead."

Last month, Goldman Sachs said they expected the price of crude to increase by nearly $20-per-barrel during 2012, and others have cited that sanctions and tensions concerning America’s relationship with Iran will only drive prices higher. Republicans have in turn offered solutions from the right to counter Obama’s failure to fix prices, with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich campaigning heavily over the promise of $2.50-gallon gasoline in his administration.

Whatever the reason for Obama’s support now slipping, it is not welcoming news for a president who will be up for re-election in a matter of months. Although the president has previously polled more positively than his opponents, the latest quizzing puts the incumbent two percentage points behind Mitt Romney in a race for the White House. Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum is only neck-and-neck with Obama according to the poll, with a hypothetical race today occurring favoring the current president by only 3 percentage points. Earlier this month, a separate study published by Rasmussen Reports placed Texas Congressman Ron Paul above Obama in the polls as well.

According to the latest poll, Obama’s approval rating is only at 46 percent as of March 10, 2012. The last time he sunk that low was this past November, when only 44 percent of those surveyed suggested they were happy with the administration. Obama’s approval rating was at 68 percent when he entered office in early 2009, although Washington Post and Pew polls since have put him at 59 percent or lower since July of that year.