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 findings come just five weeks after Obama appeared to be getting a boost from the improving economy, and gas prices are a main culprit.


Nearly two-thirds of Americans surveyed say they do not approve of the way the president is handling the gasoline situation, where rising prices have already hit hard. Just 26 percent say they approve of his work on the issue, his lowest rating in the poll.

The negative movement has stalled what had been a gradual increase since the fall in the president’s overall approval rating. In the new poll, 46 percent approve of the way Obama is handling his job; 50 percent disapprove.

These results do not bode well for Obama's hopes of winning reelection.  As his ratings fall, ratings for the top two Republican Presidential hopefuls are rising.  Both are now about neck and neck with Obama.

The poll shows that among registered voters, Obama is now on par with Mitt Romney (47 percent for the president, 49 percent for Romney) and Rick Santorum (49 to 46 percent).

Considering the poll's margin for error of plus or minus 4 percent, this means Obama, Romney and Santorum are in a statistical dead heat.


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