Anger over the state of the economy, dissatisfaction with the health care overhaul, frustration over the handling of the Gulf oil spill, and confusion over the strategy in Afghanistan has taken a toll on President Obama’s approval numbers.  Gallup reported last week that support for the president among Independents has hit a new 38 percent low – the first time, in fact, Independent support has dropped below 40 percent. 

Certainly this downward shift in public opinion is expected to have an impact on the Congressional midterm elections.  Newsweek columnist Eleanor Clift writes this week that Democrats are in trouble, and “the disappointment in Obama could translate into a windfall for Republicans in the fall.”

The AP reported yesterday: “Four months before midterm elections, the Obama administration and congressional Democrats show signs of collective battle fatigue, ducking political fights they might once have welcomed and quarreling among themselves as they confront the likelihood of majority-threatening losses this fall.”

And fortune teller, University of Virginia’s Larry Sabato currently projects that the GOP will gain 7 seats in the Senate, 32 seats in the House and 6-7 gubernatorial seats.

No doubt the Democrats face an uphill battle when it comes to the November elections, but for many the larger question is whether or not President Obama will be able to hold onto the White House in 2012.  Despite consistent bad media for the president, historian Allan Lichtman of American University in Washington predicts Obama will hold onto the White House (h/t Hot Air):

Although the next presidential election is 28 months away, President Barack Obama’s reelection in 2012 is nearly guaranteed despite former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s prediction that Obama has only a 20 percent chance, according to American University Professor Allan Lichtman. Lichtman’s “13 Keys” system predicts the outcome of the popular vote based on the performance of the party and not the use of candidate preference polls, campaign tactics, or events. 

“Nothing that a candidate has said or done during a campaign, when the public discounts everything as political, has changed his prospects at the polls. Debates, advertising, television appearances, news coverage, and campaign strategies—the usual grist for the punditry mills—count for virtually nothing on Election Day,” says Lichtman.

The “13 Keys” featured in Allan Lichtman’s renowned book Keys to the White House, have been highlighted in dozens of articles throughout the world and are a resource for aspiring politicians. The “13 Keys” are conditions that favor reelection of the incumbent party candidate. When five or fewer are false, the incumbent party candidate wins. When six or more are false, the other party candidate wins. 

According to Lichtman, the passage of the health care bill counts as a positive for the Democratic Party, leaving the party with only four keys likely turned against it for 2012—two short of the fatal six negative keys. With nine keys that currently favor the incumbent party, Lichtman says President Obama could endure an additional setback, such as the recent political fallout from the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and still be reelected.

Of course, we’re only half-way through President Obama’s first term – there’s plenty of time for the political winds to change course.