WASHINGTON — Economic gloom may be on the rise again, with President Barack Obama's approval ratings stagnating, after buoyancy on both fronts earlier this year.
Five things to know about public opinion on the economy and Obama, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll:
DROP IN ECONOMIC OPTIMISM
Early in the year, Obama appeared to be riding a rising tide of economic optimism. Nearly half of Americans — 47 percent — described the economy as good, almost as many as the 51 percent who called it poor, in an AP-GfK poll conducted in January and February. But views of the economy have grown slightly more negative, with 41 percent now saying the economy is good and 57 percent saying it's poor.
Nearly a quarter of Americans now say the economy has worsened in the past month.
And just 3 in 10 expect the country's economic situation to improve in the next year, after nearly 4 in 10 said so in February. A third expect it will get worse.
Americans feel gloomier about their personal finances, too. About a quarter now say they expect their own household's financial situation to get worse in the next year, up 9 percentage points since AP-GfK polls in April and February.
OVERALL APPROVAL TREADING WATER
Back in February, views of the president seemed like they might be on the upswing, with 47 percent in the AP-GfK poll saying they approved of his handling of the presidency after 41 percent had said so in December. But that trend has not continued. Obama's ratings now appear little different from where they stood through 2014, with 43 percent saying they approve in the latest poll.
MARKS FROM 'THE OBAMA COALITION'
Obama remains popular among key segments of the coalition that drove him to victory in two presidential terms. Eight in 10 Democrats and nearly 9 in 10 liberal Democrats approve of the job he's doing.
Eighty percent of black respondents and 56 percent of Hispanics give their approval. As recently as October 2014, only 39 percent of Hispanics in an AP-GfK poll approved of Obama, but he has held on to the apparent gains he made among that group after the immigration action he took in November.
MORE POPULAR THAN CLINTON
Obama is more popular than Hillary Rodham Clinton, the leading Democratic candidate to replace him, according to the poll. Slightly less than half of Americans, 46 percent, have a favorable opinion of Obama in the poll. Clinton is viewed in a favorable light by 39 percent of Americans. Among Democrats, too, Obama is more popular than Clinton, 82 percent to 70 percent.
Younger Americans are divided in their assessments, but half still view him favorably. By contrast, 38 percent in the same age group have positive views of Clinton. The poll offers a glimpse into the calculations Clinton must make as she decides whether she should align herself closely with Obama, which could turn off some independent and Republican-leaning voters, but also help turn out more Democrats.
ON THE ISSUES
Four in 10 Americans say they approve of the president's handling of the economy, and about the same proportion approves of his handling of world affairs.
Forty-four percent of Americans approve of Obama's handling of health care, which is slightly more than the 38 percent who said so a year ago but unchanged in the past few months, since the Supreme Court handed the administration a major victory last month by keeping the president's 2010 health care law intact.
The AP-GfK Poll of 1,004 adults was conducted online Thursday to Monday, using a sample drawn from GfK's probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.
Respondents were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn't otherwise have access to the Internet were provided access at no cost to them.
AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com