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Obama loses support of key groups

Whites and women are a re-election problem for President Obama. Younger voters and liberals, too, but to a lesser extent.

All are important Democratic constituencies that helped him win the White House in 2008 and whose support he'll need to keep it next year.

An analysis of Associated Press-GfK polls, including the latest survey released last week, shows that Obama has lost ground among all those groups since he took office.

In his victory over Arizona Sen. John McCain, Obama cobbled together a base of support from across the political spectrum by wooing Democratic loyalists as well as independents and first-time voters.

The nation's high unemployment is weighing on Obama, dragging down his marks for handling the economy. His overall standing has slid, too, after a difficult summer marked by contentious negotiations over the country's borrowing limit, a downgrade of the nation's credit rating and concerns about the United States falling into another economic recession.

The poll shows that 46 percent now approve of how he's doing his job, down from 52 percent in June. Obama will have to win over people such as Brian Arnold, 33, of Pickerington, Ohio. He's an independent who voted for Obama in 2008.

Now, Arnold says he's undecided and down on Obama. "He got elected, it was a big party and after that he went back to being a politician. As soon as he got in office, he just did more of the same."

White independent voters, who divided their support evenly between Obama and McCain in 2008, may be the president's biggest challenge now. Just 3 in 10 white independents say Obama deserves to be re-elected and only 41 percent say he understands the problems of people like them.

Fifty-six percent of all whites approved of how he was doing his job in the first three months of his presidency. But that support has fallen, with only 36 percent now liking how he's doing his job, while 59 percent say Obama deserves to be voted out of office.

Women no longer are a bright spot for Obama. At the 100-day mark of his presidency, they gave him significantly higher approval ratings than did men, 68 percent to 60 percent. That's since fallen dramatically. In the latest AP-GfK survey, less than half of all women and less than half of all men approve of the job Obama is doing.

Twenty-seven percent of Democrats under age 45 say Obama is not a strong leader, compared with 11 percent in June.

The share of liberals who say "strong leader" describes Obama "very well" has fallen from 53 percent to 29 percent in the aftermath of the debt-ceiling debate.

The AP-GfK poll was conducted Aug. 18-22 by GfK Roper Public Affairs and Corporate Communications. It involved interviews with 1,000 adults nationwide and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.