Dan Balz and Jon Cohen
March 12, 2012
Disapproval of President Obama’s handling of the economy is heading higher ” alongside gasoline prices ” as a record number of Americans now give the president “strongly negative reviews on the 2012 presidential campaign’s most important issue, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
Increasingly pessimistic views of Obama’s performance on the economy ” and on the federal budget deficit ” come despite a steadily brightening employment picture and other signs of economic improvement, and they highlight the political sensitivity of rising gas prices.
The potential political conÂsequences are clear, with the Ârising public disapproval reversing some of the gains the president had made in hypothetical general-election matchups against possible Republican rivals for the White House. Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and former senator Rick Santorum (Pa.) now both run about evenly with Obama. The findings come just five weeks after Obama appeared to be getting a boost from the improving economy.
Gas prices are a main culprit: 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. Just 26 percent approve of his work on the issue, his lowest rating in the poll. Most Americans say higher prices are already taking a toll on family finances, and nearly half say they think that prices will continue to rise, and stay high.