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Poll: Rising Gas Prices Have Dented Obama's Rating

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- More than half of Americans for the first time expect President Obama to be re-elected, according to the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, but that won’t make it easy.

Even as expectations have moved his way, rising gas prices have dented the president’s rating on handling the economy, his overall job approval has slipped back under 50 percent and he’s reverted to a dead heat in public preferences against Mitt Romney.

Americans by a broad 65-26 percent disapprove of how the president is handling the price of gas, which has gained 49 cents a gallon this year to a national average of $3.79.  Strong critics outnumber strong approvers by nearly four to one.  And it’s important: A vast 89 percent are concerned about the recent run-up in gas prices; 66 percent are “very” concerned about it.

The survey, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, shows a broader impact, underscoring the risk to Obama.  His approval rating on handling the economy overall has lost 6 points in a month, to 38 percent -- a mere 3 points from his career low in October. 

Intensity again is highly negative: 50 percent strongly disapprove of the president’s work on the economy -- up 9 points to a new high in his presidency.

Challenging as that is for Obama, perceived weakness in his Republican opposition counteracts some of these views.  Fifty-four percent of Americans now expect the president to win a second term, up by 8 points from January and by a sharp 17 points from October.

Yet the hurdles for Obama remain serious.  His support against Romney has pulled back: After a 51-45 percent reading last month, Obama and Romney now stand at 47-49 percent among registered voters.  And it’s 49-46 percent matching Obama against Rick Santorum.  Those mark a scant four point gain in support for Romney vs. Obama, and a five point gain for Santorum.

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