President Barack Obama's popularity has plummeted to a record low, with just 45 percent of voters now approving of his performance, according to the latest Zogby International poll.
Asked whether they approve or disapprove of the president's job performance, just 45.3 percent of likely voters say they approve. That compares with 50.5 percent who disapprove of the job Obama is doing.
The results are a strong indication that contentious national debate over healthcare reform has taken a major toll on the president's popularity.
Those numbers also indicate that Obama clearly is in serious political trouble, Fox News analyst and best-selling author Dick Morris tells Newsmax.
"As soon as Obama dropped below 52 percent . . . he was leaking real voters who had backed him in November," Morris tells Newsmax. "Now that he is down to 45 percent among likely voters . . . he is in deep political trouble."
Of greatest concern to Obama may well be his decline among all-important independent voters. Just 37.5 percent of self-identified independents say they approve of how Obama is handling the presidency. That compares with 59.2 percent of independents who disapprove.
"There is nothing counterintuitive in any of these numbers," pollster John Zogby of Zogby International tells Newsmax. "The president is clearly taken a slide — most especially with independent voters, who play such an important role in any legislation or policy support.
"Interestingly, the president had been making some inroads with groups like investors, and frequent Walmart shoppers . . . both typically conservative," Zogby says. "However, he has slipped considerably with them in this poll."
Zogby adds: "The healthcare plan appears to be consolidating conservative opposition and scaring independent voters."
Pundits pay especially close attention to trends involving swing voters.
Continued evidence of declining popularity there will ratchet up the pressure on congressional blue dogs and other conservative Democrats to go their own way on controversial proposals such as public-option healthcare and energy cap-and-trade, knowing they can't rely on presidential coattails to prop them up with voters.
As expected, Obama continues to score well with Democrats, who give him an 83.9 percent approval rating. But among GOP voters, Obama has flat-lined at a 5.7 percent approval rating — a problem in itself for a president who promised to bring a new, bipartisan spirit to Washington politics.
Obama's decline has been startling. Various polls had his approval rating at well over 60 percent at the 100-day mark of his presidency.
By mid-June, his approval number had dipped to 51 percent. In July, it dropped further to 48 percent of likely voters.
Experts say the failure of the $787 billion stimulus to deliver on Obama's promise of massive jobs creation, the ongoing economic woes, and the increasingly bitter fight over Democrats' determination to push the government-subsidized, public-option healthcare reforms are among the reasons for Obama's rapid descent.
"Clearly, the healthcare reform package is dragging him down," Morris tells Newsmax, "and will drag every Democrat down unless they realize that they cannot afford to alienate the elderly of America by cutting Medicare and rationing medical care."
The Zogby International interactive poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percent.
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