2008 record      


President Obama still holds a small lead over Mitt Romney, 46%-42%, according to the latest IBD/TIPP poll released Monday, up from a 3-point edge a month ago. But he has not risen above 46% since April.

Most troubling for Obama is that he trails his GOP rival 36%-43% among independent voters, with 12% undecided.

The large number of undecided voters should greatly concern the Obama campaign. Such voters are more likely to break for the challenger rather than the incumbent, notes Raghavan Mayur, president of TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence, which conducted the poll.

He also said Obama's biggest problem is unemployment.

"If you look at the number of households with at least one person looking for employment, it's 23%," he said. "That translates into 30 million people looking for work. It's something that the mainstream media often miss."

Among independents, 29% are in a household with at least one person looking for employment.

The June 1-8 poll of 912 U.S. adults, including 841 registered voters, came after the Labor Department reported just 69,000 jobs were added in May, the weakest in a year and much worse than expected. Almost all of the responses came before Obama's Friday statement that the private sector is "doing fine."

Americans aren't happy with the country's direction, with 65% saying they were either not very or not at all satisfied vs. just 33% very or somewhat satisfied. That's further deterioration from May when 57% were dissatisfied vs. 42% satisfied.

Foreign policy is a bright spot for Obama. For example, 43% say his handling of the war in Afghanistan is excellent or good vs. 28% who don't.

"Obama's ratings on handling the economy or the deficit are much worse than foreign policy, which is a bit of a surprise," said Karlyn Bowman, a senior fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. "Clearly, economic and fiscal issues are his biggest challenge."

On economic and fiscal issues, Obama gets low marks. On handling the economy, only 43% say his performance is poor or unacceptable, while 33% say he is doing excellent or good. Among independents, 47% give the president bad marks vs. just 10% giving him solid grades.

Only 27% of Americans say he's handling the federal budget well vs. 46% who say he isn't.

More Americans are feeling more stressed over personal finances, with 30% saying they are more stressed vs. the prior three months vs. 12% who feel less stressed. Among independents, it's 33%-13%.

"That, I think speaks to the fragility of the economy and the fragile situation some people are in," said Bowman.

It may also be what is keeping his job approval rating below 50% — 47%-45% in the latest IBD/TIPP poll. Presidents with job approval below 50% usually aren't re-elected, Bowman notes.

The IBD/TIPP Presidential Leadership Index fell 1.3 points in June to 49.4, the first sub-50 reading since April.

Obama's surrogates continue to blame the lackluster economy on the Bush administration. Americans agree: About 76% of respondents still hold President Bush very or somewhat responsible.

But 66% also hold Obama very or somewhat responsible for the condition of the economy.

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