WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama launched his latest cross-country trawl for campaign cash on Wednesday at an auspicious moment — as his approval rating hit the crucial 50 per cent barrier in two new polls.
There were also signs that strengthening jobs growth and a quickening recovery were improving his standing in several key states the president will need to capture if he is to win re-election in November.
While the news is not all good for Obama — his economic management still gets low marks from voters — the poll and other recent surveys suggest prospective Republican challengers are less popular than the president. A New York Times/CBS News poll pegged Obama’s job rating at exactly 50 per cent — a key point, as history shows presidents at that level have a much higher change of re-election than those struggling to reach the plateau.
A CNN/ORC poll had Obama at an identical 50 per cent approval rating. Yet despite upbeat news, the White House has warned that one good set of economic indicators is not conclusive, and there is concern that the economy could slow or the jobless rate could rise as the election draws closer. Outside shocks like a worsening European debt crisis or a military confrontation with Iran, have the potential to darken Obama’s prospects. Mitt Romney comes the closest of Obama’s possible general election foes to beating him, trailing the president by 48 to 42 per cent. Obama meanwhile leads surging Republican candidate Rick Santorum by 49 per cent to 41 per cent.
However, there were warning signs for Obama. Fifty per cent of those asked said that they still disapproved of his management of the economy, compared to 44 per cent who approved.