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Poll reveals who would win if Obama and Romney faced off today

New poll numbers by the Washington Post and ABC News spell trouble for President Barack Obama whose disapproval ratings are the worst since he was elected in 2008

LARRY DOWNING/Reuters

They are sobering poll numbers – and an early sign that the Obama presidency is being dragged down by the botched rollout of the U.S. president's signature health-care law last month.

Here are the highlights of the Washington Post and ABC News analysis of their latest joint poll:

  • President Barack Obama’s disapproval rating stands at 55 per cent – the worst since he was elected in 2008.
  • Mr. Obama’s approval rating is down to 42 per cent – down six percentage points since October and dropping 13 per cent over the year.
  • Opposition to Obamacare is now at its highest with 57 per cent against it.
  • As the Washington Post point out, over the last year perceptions of Mr. Obama’s honesty and trust, leadership and ability to understand the problems of the average American have dropped dramatically. The poll shows that for the first time, Mr. Obama is in the negative on these key indicators.
  • If there was a re-do of the 2012 presidential vote this month, Mitt Romney would be ahead of Mr. Obama among registered voters by four percentage points.

Obamacare remains deeply unpopular among the vast majority of Americans, but the law was mostly a non-issue a year ago and did not stop Mr. Obama from being re-elected in a contest that pitted a largely liked and trusted incumbent against a flawed and wealthy would-be steward of the U.S. economy – Mitt Romney.

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One year later, it is a different story.

Widespread technical problems and repeated crashes accompanied the launch of the online health insurance site and left many U.S. citizens frustrated. Meanwhile, a pledge made by Mr. Obama during his first term – that health insurance holders would be allowed to keep their existing plans – appeared to have been broken as many health plan holders saw their plans cancelled under the new law.

An estimated 7 million have seen their health plans cancelled and while health care enrolment has doubled to 50,000 it remains well off the administration's target of 500,000, according to ABC News.

Mr. Obama risks becoming a victim of the second-term curse – the phenomenon of the incumbent being mired in a scandal that dominates the administration.

President George W. Bush faced backlash over his handling of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, President Bill Clinton faced impeachment, President Ronald Reagan was tainted by the Iran-Contra scandal – in which the U.S. secretly sold anti-tank missiles to Iran and used the proceed to fund anti-Communist forces in Central American, in both instances going against U.S. law and Congress.

Mr. Obama's troubles come at a key moment – as U.S. Congress eyes key mid-term elections in 2014 that will decide who controls the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.

The Republican party has been mired in its own struggles – being largely blamed for the partial government shutdown in September.

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But Republicans aim to use Obamacare ahead of the 2014 mid-term elections to make the argument that Democrats – as well as Mr. Obama – are neither competent nor trustworthy in steering the country.

Admitting that the administration "fumbled" the health care rollout, Mr. Obama apologized last week and promised a set of administrative fixes. The latest poll numbers were conducted after the apology.

Mr. Obama's poll numbers aside, there is a group of politicians that fares even worse. A separate Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor Poll released yesterday showed that U.S. Congress has an approval rating of 9 per cent among Americans, a figure that is down from 21 per cent last year. The poll also showed a sharp drop in Mr. Obama's approval rating and mirrored the Washington Post/ABC News poll released today.

"The bottom has fallen out for everyone in the nation's political leadership," said the National Journal's Ronald Brownstein.

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About the Author

Affan Chowdhry is the Globe's multimedia reporter specializing in foreign news. Prior to joining the Globe, he worked at the BBC World Service in London creating international news and current affairs programs and online content for a global audience. More

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