US President Obama's support is eroding among elements in his base, and a yearlong effort to recapture the political center has failed to attract independent voters, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll, leaving him very vulnerable at a time when pessimism over the Country's direction is greater than at any other time since he took office.

Mr. Obama's move to seize the initiative on the economy was well received by the public, and clear majorities support crucial pieces of his new job-creation program.

But despite his campaign to sell the plan to the US Congress and voters, more than 50% of those questioned said they feared the economy was already in or was headed for a Double Dip recession, and about 75% of Americans think the Country is headed in the wrong direction.

US Republicans appear more energized than Democrats at the outset of the Y 2012 Presidential campaign, but have not come together around a candidate yet.

Even as the party's nominating contest seems to be narrowing to a 2-man race between Mitt Romney and Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, a majority of their respective supporters say they have reservations about their candidate, most Republicans who plan to vote in a primary say they would like more choices.

The Republican primary campaign is addressing a more conservative electorate than 4 yrs ago, with 7 in 10 Republican voters calling themselves conservative and 25% who say they are moderate.

The poll, which was conducted after Mr. Obama's economic address to Congress last week, contains considerable warning signs for the President.

The poll found a 12-pt jump since late June, to 43%, in the number of Americans who say the economy is getting worse. And for the 1st time since taking office, Mr. Obama's disapproval rating has reached 50% in the Times and CBS News polls.

The poll found a 43% approval rating for Mr. Obama. It is significantly higher than Jimmy Carter, who had an approval rating of 31% at a similar time in his Presidency, according to the Times and CBS News poll, which showed Ronald Reagan with an approval of 46% and George (41) Bush at 70%.

The President's support has fallen to its lowest levels across parts of the diverse coalition of voters who elected him, from women to suburbanites to college graduates. And a persistent effort over the past year to reclaim his appeal to independent voters has shown few signs of success, with 59% of this critical electoral group voicing their disapproval.

Mr. Obama is not succeeding in winning over independent voters, who comprise the most influential group of the electorate, and neither have Republicans. The field is largely unknown to independents, and few have a favorable opinion of any of the candidates.

As the Republican Party experiences something of a reinvention, with Tea Party activists often clashing with the party's establishment, the poll found an overall electorate that is not entirely in step with the campaign messages of the party's candidates.

More than 8 in 10 Republicans voters would like to see the national health care law repealed, at least in part. About 50% say illegal immigrants should be deported, rather than offered a chance at citizenship or an opportunity to serve as guest workers.

IN contrast to the positions taken by some Presidential candidates, 75% of Republicans say Global warming exists, either as a result of human activity, natural patterns in the earth's environment, or both.

Nearly 6 in 10 favor allowing same-sex couples to either form civil unions or marry. And only 33% of Republicans support a ban on abortion.

A slim majority of Republican voters say it is important for a Presidential candidate to share their religious beliefs. And more than 33% of Republican primary voters say that most people they know would not vote for a candidate who is Mormon.

Mr. Romney, the former Governor of Massachusetts, struggled during his Presidential bid 4 yrs ago to explain his Mormon traditions to some voters. Mr. Perry speaks frequently to Republican audiences about his Evangelical beliefs.

The poll was taken as Republicans hopefuls are drawing sharp distinctions with one another in a series of nationally televised debates.

A fight over Social Security has emerged as one of the early yet defining differences between Mr. Perry, who has called the program a monstrous lie, and Mr. Romney, who has called for maintaining the current system with some changes to shore up its long-term financial condition. The poll found that nearly three-quarters of Republicans said they thought Social Security and Medicare were worth their costs

The crosscurrents across the Republican landscape show the promise and peril for the candidates. Nearly 50% of Republicans surveyed said they considered themselves supporters of the Tea Party, but that finding was tempered by 67% of Republicans who said a candidate's identification with the Tea Party made no difference in their vote.

The Nationwide telephone poll was conducted from last Saturday through Thursday with 1,452 adults, of whom 1,356 were registered to vote. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3% for both groups.

The poll found that most Americans are familiar with the American Jobs Act, the President's US$447-B proposal to create jobs. Almost 50% of the public is confident the plan would create jobs and improve the economy. A substantial majority of Americans support the main proposals aimed at creating jobs, including tax cuts for small businesses, improvements in the nation's infrastructure and payroll tax cuts for working Americans.

Despite their support, 67% of Americans from broad majorities across party lines are doubtful that Congressional Democrats and Republicans will be able to reach an agreement on a job-creation package despite near universal bipartisan support for compromise.

The poll also found a historically low approval rating for Congress, with just 19% approving of Republicans, compared with 28% that approve of Democrats.

The poll held a few promising signs for Mr. Obama. Americans support his position that creating jobs should be a higher priority than cutting spending. Democrats and independents agree on that view, while Republicans do not. And across party lines, Americans support his position that a deficit-reduction plan should include a mix of tax increases and spending cuts.

But the poll also found a dark mood on Mr. Obama's handling of the economy, with 34% approving and 57% disapproving.

His numbers on job creation are similarly bleak, with 40% approving of his performance and 53% disapproving. Two-thirds of the public say Mr. Obama has not made progress in fixing the economy, even though a majority of people concede the condition of the National economy is not something a President can do a lot about.

Paul A. Ebeling, Jnr.

 

Paul A. Ebeling, Jnr

Paul A. Ebeling, Jnr. writes and publishes The Red Roadmaster's Technical Report on the US Major Market Indices, a weekly, highly-regarded financial market letter, read by opinion makers, business leaders and organizations around the world.

Paul A. Ebeling, Jnr has studied the global financial and stock markets since 1984, following a successful business career that included investment banking, and market and business analysis. He is a specialist in equities/commodities, and an accomplished chart reader who advises technicians with regard to Major Indices Resistance/Support Levels.