Obama Approval: Trouble Ahead?

Obama's job approval is at 65 percent but fewer expect stimulus will help.

ByABC News
December 15, 2008, 12:03 PM

June 22, 2009— -- President Obama remains on his honeymoon -- but with a hint of clouds over the beach.

They signal economic impatience. A still-impressive 65 percent of Americans in this new ABC News/Washington Post poll approve of Obama's job performance. But there's been a retrenchment in the expectation that his stimulus plan will improve the economy -- and, consequently, a halt in what had been steadily improving views of the nation's direction.

Click here for a PDF with charts and questionnaire.

A narrow majority, 52 percent, now thinks Obama's stimulus program has helped or will help the nation's economy -- down from 59 percent in late April. While he's vulnerable elsewhere as well, it's the economy that's his make-or-break issue -- and his advantage over the Republicans in trust to handle it, while still broad, has narrowed from a record 37 points, 61-24 percent, in April, to 24 points, 55-31 percent, today.

Where the economy leads broader public sentiment typically follows; given expectations for gains under Obama, the number of Americans saying the country's headed in the right direction had grown steadily from a record low 8 percent in October to 50 percent in April, its highest in six years. Now it's inched back under half, to 47 percent, with 50 percent saying we're on the wrong track -- the first time since Obama's election that views of the country's course have not improved.

The president's overall approval remains higher than his rating for handling any specific issue, and there are several on which he's notably vulnerable. He's below 50 percent approval for handling the federal deficit and the automaker bailout alike. His positions on Guantanamo Bay and torture continue to lack majority support. And he has a fairly tepid 53 percent approval on health care, a longtime political sand trap on which the administration is making a major push this summer.

In another sign of his risks, the number of Americans who approve "strongly" of Obama's job performance overall has slipped by 6 points, to 36 percent.