By: John Zogby Forbes.com Contributor
Our new Zogby Analytics poll is out and President Barack Obama's approval ratings are unchanged from the our poll in July . But while the national sample of 937 likely voters shows the same 47% rating, the President's disapproval rating is now at 50% (3 points worse than last month). Still, a paltry 33% say that the country is headed in the right direction and the President's problem is that he only captures the support of 46% of these "right track" voters.
Mr. Obama's approval is down a few points among Democrats (82%) and down substantially among liberals (74%), Hispanics (65%), and young people (51%). He is now below 50% among both men (48%) and women (46%). His numbers on election day of last year were much better among these groups and others. For example, among African Americans the President's approval rating is 83% -- but he won with 91% support.
The President actually did well last November among independent voters, but today he is garnering only 34% of their support.
There are still some bright lights in this poll, which was conducted online on August 20: 54% of Catholics give Mr. Obama positive marks, as do 55% of moderates, and he maintains 20% of conservatives. With the growing numbers of social networkers, Mr. Obama's 54% approval is solid. And he remains strong among the formerly conservative voters who are NASCAR fans (55%) and Weekly Wal-Mart Shoppers (51%). He also gets majority support from the Creative Class (52%).
But Augusts have always been cruel to Mr. Obama since 2008. If this is a "bottoming out" phenomenon , he is not in such bad shape. As I have said numerous times, 47% is nowhere near where very unpopular presidents have been. But it all depends if he is able to show that he is really in charge. International crises, where Presidents can really control and shine, do not provide him with any clear choices. Support a coup in Egypt or elected Islamists who overplayed their hands? Keep a hands off policy toward the Syrian regime when there may finally be evidence its use of chemical weapons against fellow citizens? Or arm rebel groups that are Islamist, aligned with Iran or even al-Qaeda? Some believe that Secretary of State John Kerry may actually succeed in final status negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians - but don't bet on it. Besides, nothing would be completed until about six to nine months.
The continuing drip of leaks about the NSA may start to catch on with voters who for the most part haven't cared all that much. But there is a growing sense that these problems are too big for Mr. Obama and maybe he wasn't cut out for the job in the first place. His loss of support among strong elements of his base must be particularly troubling.
So the President is now forced to do what he actually does best - campaign. He could run the risk of being tiring or he could rally public support for his infrastructure and environmental agenda and turn it into the wedge that he could use to pick up more seats in Congress. I think that this Fighting Obama is the one we will see after Labor Day. And that Obama is the one who wins.