Poll: Obama approval plummets, most see U.S. on 'wrong track'

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Politics,Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets

President Obama's Inaugural high in the polls has evaporated in just six weeks, the result of a depressing black hole that has also sucked the public's budding enthusiasm for a positive change in the direction of the nation with it.

Since winning reelection and presenting his aggressive liberal agenda in his Inaugural Address on January 21, pollster John Zogby tells Secrets that the president's approval has plummeted six points, from 57 percent to 51 percent, and is on the verge of dropping further unless he can cut a budget deal with the GOP. "He has lost several points among independents and younger voters," said Zogby.

"This trend begs the question as to whether president is heading back under 50. He needs a deal as much as GOP," said Zogby, whose presidential report card appears in Secrets every Monday. His last report card gave Obama an "F."

"A substantial minority, 46 percent, disapprove of his performance," said Zogby, quoting from his fresh poll of 1,500 likely voters.

Worse, he added, "there has been a decided shift in the voters' overall mood." Notably, he said, only 35 percent see the country heading in the right direction and 54 percent believe the country is on the wrong track. "Those numbers are substantially lower than immediately after Mr. Obama's election," said Zogby.

What happened? "It looks like voters validated their choice at the time of the Inaugural and felt the usual degree of hope that normally happens with a new term," Zogby said of the earlier high approval rating. "The president clearly had consolidated his base and, thanks to the GOP, had a majority of independents. But he is fighting powerful cross-currents: faith in government is very low, the economy is recovering but just chugging, and government continues to fight within. So I think the president's numbers have settled down."

Zogby added that Obama's approval numbers are still far above those of the Republicans and also that the president continues to have more support than less among Catholics, 53 percent approval versus 46 percent disapproval, and even Zogby's "NASCAR class," which give Obama a 52 percent to 46 percent approval edge.