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“The president’s approval ratings have everything to do with how confident people feel about the direction the country’s heading,” said Sean Gibbons, vice president at the Third Way, a centrist think tank in Washington. “If the economy was growing at 3 percent or better, then his poll numbers would probably be quite a bit higher. Our growth is fairly anemic.”

Mr. Obama’s fortunes have reached a point this week where his Obamacare promise that “you can keep your plan if you like it” is being compared to President George H.W. Bush’s breaking his “read my lips: no new taxes” pledge in 1990. An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll Tuesday pointed to more potential problems, with 37 percent of respondents saying that the Obamacare website woes can be fixed, while 31 percent believe they point to a longer-term issues with the law’s design that can’t be corrected.

Another 30 percent believe it’s too soon to say.

The tipping point for the president was in June, when an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll showed the damage caused by a trio of scandals: the administration’s inadequate response to the deaths of four Americans in a terrorist attack at the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya; the Internal Revenue Service targeting of conservative groups, and the Justice Department’s seizure of journalists’ phone records. Fifty-eight percent of those surveyed say the Benghazi and Justice Department scandals raised doubts about “the overall honesty and integrity of the Obama administration,” while 55 percent said the same about the IRS targeting.