(CBS News) President Obama's approval rating has hit the lowest level ever in CBS News polling, according to the latest CBS News/New York Times survey. The drop may be partially attributable to rising gas prices.Considering how we've spent the better part of two weeks learning that the greatest threat to the nation is what Rush Limbaugh says about law students, there must be another reason: And it's the obvious one:
Just 41 percent of Americans approve of the job Mr. Obama is doing as president, according to the poll, conducted from March 7 to 11. Another 47 percent disapprove of his performance, up from 41 percent last month.
Mr. Obama's approval rating was 50 percent last month.
The average U.S. price of a gallon of gasoline has jumped 12 cents over the past two weeks. The poll found that most Americans, 54 percent, believe gas prices are something a president can do a lot about.I believe this is what they call being hoist on one's own petard. A few guesses on what is happening:
Americans have historically felt that a president can control gas prices, though experts attribute changes to a variety of factors, many outside of a president's control. They also felt this way when gas prices spiked during the administration of former President George W. Bush.
- In large measure, people decided what they thought about Barack Obama a long time ago. This is why his campaign has largely been about demonizing the other guys.
- I agree that gas prices are largely beyond a president's control, but symbolically Obama has made some bad decisions. Scuttling the Keystone XL pipeline was stupid, because it reinforced a lot of other messages, especially concerning energy policy generally. Much of what we thought we knew in 2009 turns out to be not so true, especially concerning (a) the promise of "green jobs" and (b) the available supply of oil.
- While the folks screaming about the supposed "war on women" are loud, they don't necessarily speak for as many people as it might appear. The recent discussions about forcing Catholic employers to provide contraception is a reminder to people that Obamacare is coming. People may not talk about it on a day-to-day basis, but they haven't forgotten about it, either.