President Obama enters the 2012 election year facing a struggling economy, an unhappy public, and a lower job approval rating than most of his recent predecessors at a comparable point in their presidencies.
Obama's job approval rating stands at 44%. George W. Bush began his reelection year with a 56% job approval rating; Bill Clinton's approval rating was 50% in January 1996. Obama's current mark is closer to George H. W. Bush's in January 1992 (46% approved).
Obama continues to struggle among political independents with just 37% of independents approving of the way he is handling his job as president while 56% disapprove.
Nonetheless, Obama possesses political strengths at the start of his reelection year, notably a positive personal image. Large majorities say Obama stands up for his beliefs, cares about people like them and is trustworthy. And while perceptions of Obama's leadership have declined over time, on balance more say he is a strong leader than disagree. Obama's personal image is much stronger than GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney's when it comes to each man's favorability ratings with voters.
These are some of the of the findings of the latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Jan. 11-16.
Read the full report, Obama: Weak Job Ratings, But Positive Personal Image, on the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press' Web site.