BARACK OBAMA has been hit by the worst poll rating drop for a new US president since records began more than 50 years ago.
The decline in his popularity since July has been the steepest of any leader at the same stage of their first term since 1953.
Researchers Gallup recorded an average daily approval rating of 53pc for Mr Obama for the third-quarter of the year, a sharp drop from the 62pc he recorded in the second-quarter. It means that of the past nine elected presidents, only Bill Clinton had a lower poll rating at this stage in their term.
In comparison, George W Bush had a poll rating of 72pc in 2001 while John F Kennedy's score was 77pc in 1961.
After entering the White House with a 78pc approval rating, Mr Obama's current score is only just above the level that would make re-election a struggle.
Since Mr Obama made history by becoming the first black president of the United States, critics have accused him of failing to make progress and have questioned whether he has taken on too much.
He has faced widespread criticism on a series of issues including health care, Guantanamo Bay, Afghanistan and the economy.
His first year in office has been dominated by his attempts to reform US health care amid fierce opposition.
Internationally, much of his focus has been on attempts to achieve new agreements on nuclear disarmament and climate change, with his efforts in these areas yet to bear fruit.
And while there has been some progress on Iraq, with US troops withdrawing to their bases as the Iraqi army grows in strength, the military headache of Afghanistan has been growing.
Jeffrey Jones of Gallup explained: "The dominant political focus for Obama in the third-quarter was the push for health care reform, including his nationally televised address to Congress in early September.
"Obama hoped that Congress would vote on health care legislation before its August recess, but that goal was missed, and some members of Congress faced angry constituents at town hall meetings to discuss health care reform. Meanwhile, unemployment continued to climb near 10pc."
Mr Obama has drawn particular criticism recently for the length of time he has taken to decide what to do next in Afghanistan.
Republicans sense he is vulnerable and Dick Cheney, the former vice president, returned to the public stage this week to criticise him.
In a speech on Wednesday, he accused Mr Obama of failing to give Americans troops a clear mission or defined goals and of being seemingly "afraid to make a decision" about Afghanistan.
"The White House must stop dithering while America's armed forces are in danger," he said at the Centre for Security Policy in Washington.
The bad polling news came as Mr Obama returned to the campaign trail to prevent his Democratic party losing two governorships next month in states in which he defeated Senator John McCain in last November's election.
Governor Jon Corzine of New Jersey is in severe danger of defeat, while Democrats are fast losing hope that Creigh Deeds can beat his Republican opponent in Virginia.
Campaigning for Mr Corzine in Hackensack on Wednesday night, Mr Obama delivered a plea: "I'm here today to urge you to cast aside the cynics and the sceptics, and prove to all Americans that leaders who do what's right and who do what's hard will be rewarded and not rejected." (© Daily Telegraph, London)