About a week and a half into the battle over the 2012 budget, Gallup shows that only 41 percent of Americans approve of Barack Obama’s performance as president, while 50 percent disapprove of him. Gallup writes that its “polling includes interviews conducted before and after Obama announced his plan for deficit reduction on Wednesday.” So, from the president’s standpoint, the early returns in the fight he has picked with Paul Ryan aren’t good.

Even more striking is Obama’s approval rating among independents: Barely over one in three independents (35 percent) now approve of Obama’s performance. Given that Gallup says the population is now evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats, a 35 percent approval rating among independents is not even close to what Obama would need to win reelection.

Gallup succinctly concludes, “President Obama is now as unpopular as he has been at any time since he became president.”

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