In the first year and a half of Barack Obama’s presidency, polls showed that while Americans agreed that the economy was bad, they remained optimistic that it was turning around. That optimism faded in the late spring of 2010, and a consensus that it is bad and getting worse has congealed ever since. But, until recently, voters had refused to blame Obama for the bad economy and still pinned the main responsibility on former President George W. Bush.

Now that has changed. According to a new FoxNews survey (July 17-19, 2011), voters now believe that Obama’s economic policies are making things worse. While only 34 percent feel they are making things better, 49 percent believe his policies are making things worse.

And key constituency groups on whom the president must rely agree with the view that his policies are hurting. Independents agree they are worsening the situation by 30 percent to 50 percent. Voters under 35 agree by 28 percent to 45 percent. All white voters agree by 26 percent to 58 percent. If young people and independents run out on Obama, he is finished.

Even among subgroups that still feel Obama’s policies are working, the support is barely above 50 percent. Nonwhites think that Obama’s efforts are helping to make things better by 56 percent to 24 percent, and Democrats agree by 58 percent to 17 percent that they are improving things. But these tepid margins are scarcely the stuff of which rabid support is made.

Meanwhile, pessimism about the economy’s future is intensifying. Fifty-eight percent of all voters think things are getting worse, while only 26 percent see an improvement. One year ago, 52 percent said the economy was getting worse, and 35 percent saw it improving.

Overall, Obama’s job approval has inched down in the FoxNews poll steadily since his Osama bin Laden high. On May 15-17, it stood at 55 percent. By June 5-7, it had dropped to 48 percent. On June 26-28, it was down to 46 percent, and in the most recent poll on July 17-19, 2011, it had fallen to 45 percent.

And, according to other polls, Obama trails a generic Republican candidate and now only runs even with the strongest Republican alternative — Mitt Romney — at 45 percent apiece. Since the undecided vote always goes against the incumbent, this is truly a dismal showing.

Polls reflect a key message: Voters are waking up!

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