With the economy still sinking, although not as fast as in previous months, President Obama's approval rating for September remains at 41% in the Gallup survey. But this is not predictive of how the 2012 race will go:
Thirteen months from now, Americans will vote on whether to give Obama a second term in office. While Obama's September job approval average may not appear to bode well for him, history shows that approval ratings at this juncture are not strongly predictive of an incumbent president's re-election chances. Jimmy Carter in 1979 had lower monthly average approval ratings in September of the year before his election than Obama has now. Carter went on to lose his re-election bid. George H.W. Bush's approval rating in September of 1991 was 68%, second only to Dwight Eisenhower's 71% in September 1955. Bush went on to lose the 1992 election to Bill Clinton.
Circumstances play a bigger role than approval numbers. The Iranian hostage situation and ever worsening economy did in Carter while a mild recession turned into a major downturn by Clinton fear mongering sank Bush #41.
For Obama, with near universal agreement among economists that things are not going to get much better before the election, the circumstances certainly are not in his favor which is why he will seek to scare Americans about "extreme" Republicans in order to win.