Obama's job rating has closely matched that of Ronald Reagan, the last president to take office in the midst of a recession; the two have correlated at a remarkable 0.86 to date, and Reagan in April 1983 had 49 percent approval, 2 points from Obama's today. But mid-1983 was the point at which the economy began to recover and Reagan to rise; he exceeded 50 percent approval in May 1983 and held it steadily for the next three and a half years. With gas forecast to hit $5 this summer, an economy fueled-boost for Obama is hard to see.
Obama gets some aid, albeit limited, from another quarter, personal popularity. Fifty-two percent express a favorable opinion of the president overall. That's down 5 points from a year ago to a low for his presidency. Nonetheless, it's a majority, while his job approval is not; and equal numbers see him "strongly" favorably as strongly unfavorably, in contrast to his job approval.
While the power of incumbency is substantial, history is littered with presidents driven into the shoals by the storm of economic discontent. Today, with his intention to seek-election in hand, 28 percent of Americans say they'll definitely support Obama, and 25 percent will consider it, enough, combined, to put him over the top. But 45 percent say they definitely will not vote to reelect the president, enough to put him at serious risk, and to make the 2012 contest a hot one.
This ABC News-Washington Post poll was conducted by telephone April 14-17, 2011, among a random national sample of 1,001 adults, including landline and cell-phone-only respondents. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 points.
The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York, N.Y, with sampling, data collection and tabulation by TNS of Horsham, Pa.