Just when it looked like the improving economy would lift President Obama's popularity ratings, along come soaring gas prices to drag them down. A record 50% of people now "strongly disapprove" of Obama's handling of the economy, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. Gas prices are leading the negative turn, with 65% of Americans disapproving of the president's handling of fuel costs. But Obama's ratings were also down regarding foreign policy and the deficit. All told, Obama's overall approval rating fell to 46%, and his disapproval rating climbed to 50%, the inverse of last month's poll.
With Obama's approval ratings down, Republicans now all fare better against the president in hypothetical matchups, with both Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum falling within the poll's margin of error. Romney leads Obama 49% to 47%, while Santorum has closed the gap with the president to just 3 points, and now trails 46% to Obama's 49%. Among Republicans and Republican-leaning voters, Romney leads Santorum on the question of who should get the GOP nomination 33% to 29%.