By Sam Youngman - 04/21/11 10:00 AM EDT
High gas prices and continued anxiety about the economy have taken their toll on President Obama’s approval ratings, which have dropped consistently since the president announced he is running for a second term.
Since Obama announced on April 4 with a low-key email and video address to supporters, the president's numbers have gone down in every poll conducted during that period.
Last Friday, a Gallup survey showed the president's numbers at 41 percent, a tie for the lowest point in his administration. At the time Obama announced his reelection plans, the president clocked in at about 49 percent approval.
But in the weeks that followed, which included a near shutdown of the federal government, more unrest in the Middle East and a sharply partisan speech about spending, Obama’s numbers have dropped to the mid and low 40s, according to different polls.
Gas prices are traveling in the opposite direction. The average national price of a gallon of gas on Wednesday was $3.83, according to AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report. On April 4, when Obama announced his reelection effort, the average price was $3.69.
Prices also rose steadily in March, from an average of $3.47 for the week of March 7 to $3.53 for the week of March 28, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Gallup has Obama’s rating at 42 percent, compared with the RealClearPolitics average of polls that puts Obama’s approval at about 45 percent.
White House officials said this week they are not concerned about short-term polls when the president is focused on long-term solutions to big problems.
Obama is appearing across the country this week to highlight his vision for how to reduce the nation’s budget deficit. He is contrasting his plans sharply with House Republicans, who would impose significant changes to Medicare and Medicaid.
The White House believes the issue is a political winner that could help Obama in the fight with the GOP over raising the nation’s debt ceiling, which Republicans insist should be accompanied by restrictions on future spending.
New polling from the Washington Post and ABC News indicates that voters are not souring on Obama’s attempts to draw a contrast between his budget plans and GOP plans.
According to that poll, even though 58 percent disapprove of the way Obama is handling the federal debt, 64 percent disapprove of House Republicans’ handling of the issue.
In what is likely good news to the White House, 78 percent of respondents said they oppose cutting benefits or tinkering with Medicare, the part of Rep. Paul Ryan's budget plan Obama seized on last week.
And in even better news for Obama, 72 percent support raising taxes on the wealthy, another central debate between Obama and Republicans.