Grim poll numbers for a vacationing Obama

US President Barack Obama can revel all he wants in what appears to be a well-played strategy in Libya, but a Gallup poll released Monday shows that he’s not faring too well against the top Republican presidential candidates.

The poll, taken last week, matched the president up against GOP candidates Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann, and Ron Paul. Among registered voters, Obama was bested by Romney by 2 percentage points and tied with Perry. He only managed to beat Bachmann and Paul by a small margin. (A monthly survey by Public Policy Polling offered Democrats a slightly more assuring story: Obama is tied with Romney, but surpasses the rest of the GOP field by larger margins.)

 Grim poll numbers for a vacationing Obama

Barack Obama's approval ratings have slumped, and Republican presidential hopefuls are capitalising on his taking a vacation at a time when the economy is down and out. Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

Obama’s approval rating is at only 40 percent, and no recent president has been re-elected with a rating that low. The president will have to work some policy or campaign magic, it seems, if he wants to stay in the White House for another four years.

This’ll be a tall task. As Washington Post columnist Ezra Klein argues in a recent blog post, everything that Obama has accomplished so far in his presidency—be it health care reform, eliminating Osama bin Laden, or assisting with the ouster of Muammar Gaddafi—just isn’t nearly enough when the country is seized by such high levels of unemployment.

Clearly, rebuilding a sinking economy isn't something that a president can do singlehandedly, and the fickle unemployment and economic policies advanced by Republicans even have some, like Business Insider’s Harry Blodget, convinced that “Republicans are intentionally trying to tank the economy to get Obama fired.”

The silver lining?

Still, the Gallup Poll reveals that if Obama has any advantage, it’s that there’s no clear Republican pick as of yet. “Obama's position of rough parity against leading GOP candidates shows that more Americans at the moment say they would vote for Obama than approve of the job he is doing—perhaps a reflection of the continuing lack of a strong front-runner on the Republican side,” the Gallup Poll findings stated.

Guess that’s why the Republicans have taken to hammering at Obama on every angle, including his 10-day family vacation to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts (the GOP complained that Obama shouldn’t take a break when the economy is a shambles, and that the venue is too hoity-toity).

But don’t accuse The Republican National Committee of not having a sense of humor about it. To make its point, the RNC financed a website dubbed Obama’s Getaway that features a series of postcards that can be emailed to friends. The e-missives include images of Obama eating ice cream, playing golf or playing basketball, and they feature cheeky messages where recreation meets politics: “I hope I bowl higher than my approval rating,” reads one.

Here’s another: “Low polls & high unemployment… Life’s a beach!”


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Updated Date: Aug 23, 2011 06:59:42 IST