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Obama faces steep climb to reelection, new poll indicates

June 22, 2011|By Michael Muskal | Los Angeles Times
(Patrick Farrell, Miami…)

President Obama addresses the nation Wednesday night on foreign policy in Afghanistan, but his political future more likely rests with how he handles domestic issues such as the economy. And in that arena, the latest Bloomberg News poll offers little comfort for the man seeking his second term.

The president received a small bounce in approval in May after U.S. forces raided a compound in Pakistan and killed Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. But even as the president briefly benefited from that bump, polls showed a deep unease in how he was handling the economy. Whatever improvement Obama gained from that foreign policy triumph has largely dissipated, according to several other polls.

That unease over the economy has continued, bringing with it some tough political numbers for the president. Only 30% of those surveyed said they were certain to vote for the president while 36% said they definitely won’t. Of the key voting bloc of independents, fewer than one in four — 23% — said they would support Obama’s reelection while 36% said they wanted a fresh face.

Photos: Potential 2012 GOP candidates

Obama rode a wave of high hopes for change into the White House in a 2008 campaign that sought to draw a sharp line under the years of George W. Bush. Yet the Bloomberg poll found that Americans now say they are pessimistic about their economic situation as well as longer term prospects.

By 44% to 34%, those surveyed by Bloomberg said they were worse off than when Obama took office. Only 23% of those surveyed said they saw signs of improvement on the economy, while two-thirds said they believed the country was on the wrong track. Those are the worst numbers since Ronald Reagan was president, according to other polls.

The Bloomberg poll of 1,000 adults was conducted by Selzer & Co., a Des Moines, Iowa, firm. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

It has been two years since the official start of the recovery after the collapse of financial markets sent the economy into a tailspin. Yet the recovery has been sluggish at best with unemployment remaining stubbornly high at 9.1% The administration has pushed its message that things are getting better, albeit slowly.

While Obama’s popularity is low, Republicans still have to find a candidate from a fractured field to face Obama. The Bloomberg poll offers the GOP little solace.

According to the poll, 60% said that any Republican candidate would need to move so far to the right on fiscal and social issues to win the nomination that that it would be very hard for others to support the GOP.

michael.muskal@latimes.com

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