ByStephanie Condon, CBS News
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.
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 hasÂ jumped 12 centsÂ 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.
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.
When asked Tuesday by CBS Pittsburgh affiliate KDKA whether he can impact gas prices, Mr. Obama said, “Understandably people are frustrated when gas prices are going up, and there are things we can do, but they’re not going to result, provide results overnight.”
The president noted that the U.S. has reduced its dependence on foreign oil under his administration and that fuel efficiency standards for cars are being raised. The administration is exploring other ways to reduce prices, but Mr. Obama said the biggest contributor to the current high prices is rumors of war in the Middle East.
“Which is part of the reason I said a couple weeks ago let’s stop with theÂ loose talk about war,” he said. “Because a lot of what’s driving this is people’s concern and fear that there might be major disruptions in the Middle East oil markets.”
Attacks from the Republicans running to replace Mr. Obama may be having an impact on his approval rating as well. His disapproval rating has risen to 89 percent among Republicans (from 82 percent last month), and more independents now disapprove of his job performance than approve. Though Mr. Obama’s approval rating among Democrats remains high, it has dropped seven points – from 85 percent last month to 78 percent today.
Of the four remaining GOP candidates, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has hit Mr. Obama particularly hard on high gas prices, promising on the campaign trail toÂ bring down the price to $2.50.
Jim Ritterbusch, president of an oil trading advisory firm, told CBS News there are no quick fixes.
“It’s become somewhat of a political football,” Ritterbusch said. “But none of the candidates or the current president can flip a switch and drive gas prices down to $3 a gallon.”
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