Is There Hope for Obama?

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The president's approval rating fell as the debt crisis unfolded, but he may not be doomed. Some perspective on the numbers.

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The GOP has been making hay of the fact that President Obama's approval ratings in the latest Gallup Poll dropped to 42 percent, the lowest level since he took office. But before giddiness sets in, Republicans should consider a few other polling numbers.

First of all, the approval ratings for Congress and the tea party are falling further faster. (Obama may want to take a cue from Harry Truman, who famously ran against the "Do-Nothing Congress.'')

Second, another president who suffered a recession early in his first term also had, at the same point in his first term, an approval rating hovering in the low 40 percent range -- and President Reagan went on to win a landslide reelection victory the following year.

Of course, Reagan benefited from the economy taking off and a weak challenger, Walter Mondale. For his part, Obama can't count on the unemployment rate getting much better or be certain he'll have a weak GOP nominee -- though, so far, the field lacks a commanding front-runner.

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Image credit: TusyD/Flickr

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Beth Reinhard & Brian McGill

Beth Reinhard is a political correspondent for National Journal. Brian McGill is a news artist at National Journal.

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