Gas prices hurt Obama's standing

President Obama is having gas pains.

Disapproval of Obama’s handling of the economy has jumped, driven in large part by public anger over the rising per-gallon price of gasoline, according to a new Washington Post/ABC News poll released Monday. That movement, in turn, seems to have reversed gains Obama had enjoyed in re-election matchups against his potential GOP opponents in recent surveys.

In the new poll, 46 percent approve of the way Obama is handling his job, and 50 percent disapproval. That’s a mirror image of his positive 50-percent-to-46-percent split early last month in the Washington Post/ABC survey.

About two-thirds of Americans say they disapprove of the way Obama is dealing with runaway prices at the gas pump, while 26 percent approve. Respondents said higher fuel prices were pinching their family budgets and businesses.

Overall, Obama gets a 59 percent disapproval rating for his handling of the economy – and 50 percent disapprove strongly, the highest negative score yet for Obama in the poll.

The results show that Obama’s reelection status is shaky, despite recent indications of improvement in some economic measures, such as job creation, slight elevations in the president’s job-approval rating across several polls, and the continued combat of the GOP nomination race, which has driven down approval ratings of the opposition party and its candidates as their debate drags on toward spring.

Also on Monday, the White House released a report on progress on its energy policies, which said that imports of oil have declined 1 million barrels per day over the past year and that domestic oil and gas production has increased to an eight-year high. The administration touted its imposition of stricter fuel-economy standards on auto manufacturers and progress toward greater availability of alternative sources of energy such as biofuels, solar, and wind power.

“Despite the gains we've made, today's high gas prices are a painful reminder that there's much more work to do free ourselves from our dependence on foreign oil and take control of our energy future,” Obama said in a statement.