Mitt Romney has opened up a clear lead over Barack Obama in their presidential race. That owes a great deal to the candidates’ debate performances, of course. But something else is going on, too. In recent days, Obama’s approval rating has taken a perceptible hit. Via the Weekly Standard, we see that in the Rasmussen survey, only 47% approve of Obama’s job performance, while 52% disapprove. That is down from the exact opposite–52/47–on September 11. Gallup shows much the same thing, as CNS notes. In the Gallup Poll, the president’s approval rating has declined from 53% as recently as October 23 to only 46% today.
There are two plausible explanations for Obama’s current slide: voters may be disgusted by the mean, petty campaigning he is running, or they may disapprove of his handling of the Benghazi crisis. Or both. While the details of what happened in Benghazi are murky–probably impenetrably so to the average voter–the impression that the Obama administration 1) failed to protect adequately our personnel in Libya, and 2) tried to deceive Americans about what happened, is both strong and correct.
To the extent that either or both of these factors are driving Obama’s falling approval ratings, it is hard to see what he can do in the next week to turn the situation around.