CNN Poll: Obama approval rating drops as fears of depression rise

The overall approval rating for Obama has now dropped below 50% as many more Americans worry that the United States will slip into another Depression within the year. The condition of the economy also remains the number one concern to voters as well as other economic issues.

CNN Political Unit
CNN Politics

(CNN) – President Barack Obama's overall approval rating has dropped below 50 percent as a growing number of Americans worry that the U.S. is likely to slip into another Great Depression within the next 12 months, according to a new national poll.

A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll released Wednesday also indicate that the economy overall remains issue number one to voters, with other economic issues - unemployment, gas prices and the federal deficit - taking three of the remaining four spots in the top five.

Read the full results (pdf).

Forty-eight percent of people questioned say they approve of how the president is handling his duties in the White House, down six points from late May. An equal 48 percent say they disapprove of how Obama's performing, up three points from late last month.

The poll indicates a slight deterioration among Democrats and independent voters, with the president's approval rating among Democrats down three points to 82 percent and down five points among independents to 42 percent.

"But far and away his biggest drop has come among Republicans. In May, over a quarter approved of President Obama's handling of his job, but that is down to 14 percent now, a clear indication that any advantage he gained from taking out Osama bin Laden has faded with time," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

According to the survey Obama's strength remains his personal appeal: Three-quarters of all Americans say they approve of him personally, including a plurality of Republicans. But positive views of the president's personality may be trumped by economic jitters.

"Obama's approval among Republicans spiked after bin Laden's death, and no one expected it to stay that high for another 18 months. But the White House is probably worried more about the much smaller drops among independents and even Democrats. Those shifts are likely due to concerns about the economy, particularly unemployment," adds Holland.

Forty-eight percent say that another Great Depression is likely to occur in the next year - the highest that figure has ever reached. The survey also indicates that just under half live in a household where someone has lost a job or are worried that unemployment may hit them in the near future. The poll was conducted starting Friday, when the Labor Department reported that the nation's jobless rate edged up to 9.1 percent.

"The poll reminded respondents that during the Depression in the 1930s, roughly one in four workers were unemployed, banks failed, and millions of Americans were homeless or unable to feed their families," says Holland. "And even with that reminder, nearly half said that another depression was likely in the next 12 months. That's not just economic pessimism - that's economic fatalism."

According to the survey, more than eight in ten Americans say that the economy is in poor shape, a number that has stubbornly remained at that level since March.

Not surprisingly, with that much economic angst, the economy is the number one issue, the only one that more than half of the public says will be extremely important to their vote for president next year. Nearly all issues that at least four in ten say will be extremely important to their vote are domestic issues. Terrorism also makes that list, but Afghanistan is fairly low and Libya is tied for dead last out of the 15 issues tested. Abortion and gay marriage also rank very low, indicating that 2012 may be an election that is shaped more by bread-and-butter issues than social and moral concerns.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted June 3-7, with 1,015 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

– CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.

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