Donald Lambro

WASHINGTON - President Obama's approval rating in a closely- watched poll has sunk to a new low that will likely further damage his party's dimming prospects in this fall's midterm elections.

As he returns from a week long, four-nation Asian tour, overshadowed by his mishandling of Russian aggression in Ukraine, he faces a Washington Post-ABC News survey showing his job approval score has sunk to 41 percent.

More ominous for Democrats, who now fear they could lose control of the Senate this fall, a majority of voters say "they prefer a Congress in Republican hands to check the president's agenda," the Post reported Tuesday.

Obama's job approval polls have been stuck in the low 40s since last year, but the Post's latest survey shows a sharp plunge in his scores between March and the end of April.

Last month, his approval level stood at just 46 percent, with 50 percent disapproving of the job he was doing. This week, his approval- disapproval score was 41-52 percent respectively. That's the lowest performance grade of his presidency in the Post's surveys.

Other voter responses gave Obama embarrassingly low scores across the board on major issues that will most likely decide who controls Congress in the last two years of his administration.

Just 42 percent of Americans polled said they approved of his handling of the economy; only 37 percent said they approved of the way he's handled the implementation of the Affordable Care Act; and a mere 34 percent approve of the way he's responded to Russia's continuing threats to forcefully seize additional parts of neighboring Ukraine.

These and other failing grades cast a pall of gloom over Democrats as Congress reopened for business this week after a lengthy recess. But they gave Republicans reason to cheer that they were winning the midterm election battle for the heart and soul of the American people.

"Obama's low rating could be a significant drag on Democratic candidates this fall -- past elections suggest that when approval ratings are as low as Obama's, the president's party is almost certain to suffer at the ballot box in November," writes the Post's chief political analyst Dan Balz.

The president has openly complained that his party will be in trouble in November because turnout in much of his party's base -- especially among minorities and younger voters -- is always lower in midterm elections.

But surveys show that voter intensity is stronger in the GOP as a result of its deep opposition to Obamacare and the president's failures on the economy and jobs.

Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.