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Obama voter confidence hits plateau

 

With gas prices on the rise, negative news out of Afghanistan, and uncertainty about Iran, President Obama's score in the msnbc.com Voter Confidence Index appears to have hit a plateau in March.

After five straight months of steady improvement, Obama's VCI score is now -24 for the first half of March, down three points from last month, when it closed February at -21.

After the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll out earlier this month, five new polls are out in just the last two days.

NBC's Mark Murray and Domenico Montanaro discuss why, after last night's contests, the race goes on and how that adds to Romney's perception problem.

The polls are a bit more volatile than previous months with President Obama's approval rating ranging from +9 in the Pew poll out today to -6 in the CBS/New York Times poll out yesterday. Last month, Obama's approval range was from -4 in Quinnipiac to +7 in CBS/New York Times.

The direction of the country score is at -28; last month, it was -24. Both are significant improvements from after the debt-ceiling fight. In September, the average direction of the country score was -52; in October, it was -55 and November -51.

As the unemployment number has improved for five consecutive months -- and the Republican nominating fight has continued -- Obama's score has also gotten better.

At -24 overall, Obama is still 13 points off from where George W. Bush was (-11) when he won in a very close reelection fight in 2004, pointing to work President Obama still has to do -- and the likely close contest ahead.

Since 1976, aside from W. Bush, no president has won reelection with a negative VCI. Gerald Ford, who never won election but assumed the office after Richard Nixon resigned, lost in his bid for the presidency outright despite a +25 VCI.

For more on the VCI, how it's calculated, month-by-month scores for Obama, and historical data, check out VCI.msncbc.com.