Obama poll rating drops in boost for Republican rivals
President Barack Obama's approval rating has plunged below 50 percent and he would be beaten by Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney if November's US election were held today, a poll showed yesterday.
The survey, by ABC News and The Washington Post, indicated that only 46 percent of Americans now approved of the way Obama is handling his job and 50 percent disapproved as he took a hit from rising gas prices.
The situation was a reversal from early February when 50 percent approved of the president's performance and 46 percent disapproved.
The survey was released as the battleground for the Republican presidential nomination moved to the deep South for Tuesday's primaries in Alabama and Mississippi.
If the presidential election were held today, the poll found that Romney would beat Obama 49 percent to 47 percent.
The president was barely ahead of former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum, who is running second in the Republican pack -- 49 percent to 46 percent.
Previously, Obama held significant advantages over both.
According to the survey, the drop was attributed to soaring gas prices threatening to crimp America's slow recovery from a recession.
The American Automobile Association (AAA) predicts gasoline prices across the United States could average $4.25 a gallon by May, up from over $3.60 today.
Between 1998 and 2004, prices ranged from $1 to $2.
Prices vary wildly between regions, however, and last week, gasbuddy.com, a website that tracks prices in all 50 states, reported $5.09 a gallon at one Mobil and two Chevron stations in greater Los Angeles.