President Obama is running into serious trouble persuading Americans that he can fix the economy, a top Republican strategist says.
"There really is an economic pessimism and an economic undertow," argues GOP pollster Bill McInturff, who helps conduct the highly respected NBC/Wall Street Journal poll. McInturff tells me that Obama "can't get any lift" to rise above about 48 percent in his approval ratings. This suggests that Republican candidate Mitt Romney could topple Obama in the November election, McInturff adds.
McInturff says his polling indicates that every time the American people start to feel better about the economy, something happens to make them more pessimistic, such as an increase in gasoline prices, volatility in the stock market, anemic private-sector job growth, and reports of high unemployment.
The latest NBC/Journal poll found that only 33 percent of registered voters believe the economy will improve in the next year, down five points from April and seven points from March. Forty-three percent approve of Obama'a handling of the economy, down two points from a month earlier.
The country is split on other measures of Obama's standing. For example, 48 percent of Americans say Obama shares their values while 46 percent say he doesn't, according to the survey. Overall, Obama leads Republican challenger Mitt Romney among registered voters, 47 percent to 43 percent, a drop of two points since April.
The collapse of the "Americans Elect" third-party movement also hurt Obama. The group had the potential to siphon conservative and anti-incumbent votes away from Romney. But the group's leaders have announced that their effort to recruit high-profile, competitive candidates for president and vice president has failed. They had succeeded in getting their unnamed ticket on half of the state ballots across the country.
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Ken Walsh covers the White House and politics for U.S. News. He writes the daily blog "Ken Walsh's Washington" and is the author of "The Presidency" column for the U.S. News Weekly. He can be reached at kwalsh@usnews and on Facebook and Twitter.