Barack Obama's second term fumbles have pitched him to record low poll ratings and splintered his credibility with the American people. But has his presidency reached the point of no return?

History and opinion poll data suggest that when re-elected presidents slump in the ratings, it is tough, if not impossible to bounce back.

Obama, stung by the amateurish debut of his health care plan, which has sent fellow Democrats into revolt, is beginning to sense the depth of his woes.

"I do make apologies for not having executed better over the last several months," he said at a Thursday press conference, punctuated by uncharacteristic mea culpas.

"Am I going to have to do some work to rebuild confidence around some of our initiatives? Yes."

He had better act fast.

An NBC/Wall Street Journal survey two weeks ago had the president's approval rating down to 42 percent. A week later, Pew Research put Obama at 41 percent. By Wednesday, Quinnipiac University had him at 39 percent, a new low.

The data suggest Obama can no longer count on the solid floor of support that has sustained his crisis-strewn presidency.

"For the first time it appears that 40 percent floor is cracking," said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.


But do polls matter for a man who will never again be on the ballot?

Second term presidents enjoy some freedom from the tyranny of their job ratings -- and become more obsessed with staving off dreaded lame duck status.

But Obama's deteriorating image threatens to shred his remaining authority on Capitol Hill -- where key priorities, including immigration reform are on life support. He is also pleading with sanctions-wielding senators for more time to do a nuclear deal with Iran.

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