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Barack Obama is almost the least popular he's been since he took office. But don't blame him. Blame the economy. Or, better yet: Blame Congress.

Every day, the Gallup company publishes a three-day average of its polling on the approval rating of the president. On Tuesday, that number hit 39 percent — fewer than four in ten Americans approve of the job Obama is doing. More than half (obviously) disapprove. He has a net approval — percent that approves minus the percent that doesn't — of -14 percent. That's not good.

Over the course of his presidency, Obama has seen five broad trends. The high approval following his election lasted until about March of 2010. It stayed flat for a while, dipping suddenly in the Spring of 2011. The two lowest points came in August and October of that year, as the economy remained flat. His approval started to climb back up through the election, but began a new downward slide last December.

As we pointed out in August, the president's approval is closely linked to perceptions of the economy. Below, we've compared Obama's net approval each week to Gallup's weekly polling on consumer confidence. As Gallup itself notes, the two correlate.

If you'd like to take the blame-shifting one step further, here you go. From Gallup:

Americans' confidence in the U.S. economy sank for the month of October amid the partial U.S. government shutdown and partisan bickering over the federal debt limit. For the entire month, Gallup's Economic Confidence Index was down 16 points, the sharpest monthly drop since Gallup began tracking economic confidence daily in 2008.

Emphasis added. That monthly drop is significant and almost certainly plays a role in the president's fading approval. So you can make the following case: Congress holds the economy hostage, confidence dips, the president gets less popular. The House Republicans win again.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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