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Obama’s Approval Ratings Drop as Stalemate Over Cuts Drags On

March 13 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama’s approval rating has dropped below 50 percent as the public sours on the debate over $85 billion in automatic spending cuts, according to a poll released today.

The president’s approval rating has declined to 48 percent, down from a pre-inauguration high of 54 percent in the poll by Greenberg, Quinlan and Rosner Research in Washington. Forty-nine percent said they disapproved of how Obama’s handling his job, according to the survey of 950 registered voters taken March 9-12.

Congressional Republicans received even lower marks. They have a 27 percent approval rate and a 66 percent disapproval rate in the poll. Still, that shows an improvement from their 23 percent approval rate and 73 percent disapproval number in the last Greenberg survey, released Jan. 14.

The poll has an error margin of plus or minus three percentage points.

The decline in Obama’s approval rating since he won re-election is reflected in other recent polls and comes as the economy is showing some signs of strength. Sales at U.S. retailers climbed twice as much as forecast in February, showing improving job prospects are helping consumers and the economy overcome higher taxes and gasoline prices, according to figures released by the Commerce Department today.

The unemployment rate last month dropped to 7.7 percent, the lowest since December 2008, according to the Labor Department.

Economic Impact

Obama and administration officials have warned that the automatic spending cuts, which were mandated as part of a 2011 deal to increase the U.S. debt limit, will trim growth and cost jobs if they’re allowed to continue. Democrats and Republicans are at a stalemate over how to replace the cuts.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said today that recent polls showing the president’s approval rating declining reflects public dissatisfaction with the deadlock over taxes and spending.

“When Washington is dysfunctional everyone in Washington looks bad,” he said.

Obama’s approval rating stood at 50 percent in ABC News-Washington poll released today, down five percentage points from a poll taken before his inauguration in January. The president’s 18-point advantage on Republicans over handling the economy in the ABC-Post poll shrunk to four points, according to the poll.

Approval of Congress was at 16 percent in the survey.

A McClatchy-Marist poll released yesterday gave the president a 45 percent approval rating among registered voters and a 48 percent disapproval score.

The McClatchy survey also found that 46 percent of those surveyed blamed for letting the automatic spending cuts take effect, while 37 percent faulted the president.

To contact the reporter on this story: Hans Nichols in Washington at hnichols2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steven Komarow at skomarow1@bloomberg.net

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