WASHINGTON -- US President Barack Obama's approval rating has slumped to 50 percent, the lowest since his inauguration, according to a poll released Thursday on the eve of his 200th day in office.
Quinnipiac University said the president's job approval rating dipped to 50-versus-42 percent, a reflection of growing unease over Obama's handling of the economy, which sank into a devastating recession last year prompting his administration to unleash a deficit-stretching stimulus package, and health care which faces a critical overhaul in Congress.
The figure is a substantial drop from the 57-33 percent approval rating he had on July 2, and far less than the glowing numbers he enjoyed in the honeymoon first 100 days of his tenure.
The poll of 2,409 registered voters nationwide conducted July 27 to August 3 found they disapproved 49-45 percent of the way Obama was handling the economy, and disapproved 52-39 percent on his handling of health care, but approved 52-38 percent of his foreign policy.
But while Republicans disapproved of the Democratic president's job performance by an expectedly large margin of 77-16 percent, the poll found that Americans disapproved 59-29 percent of how Republicans in Congress were doing their job and that they trusted Obama over Republicans 47-36 percent to fix the economy and 46-37 percent to deal with health care.
"The president is right on the magic 50-percent threshold in public approval because of bad grades on the economy and even worse grades on health care," said Peter Brown, assistant director of Quinnipiac's Polling Institute.
"The good news... is that American voters still see him as better able to handle the economy and health care than Republicans in Congress," Brown said. "The bad news is his margins are shrinking."
On July 21 a USA Today/Gallup poll found Obama's approval rating was 55 percent six months into his presidency, one point lower than that of his predecessor George W. Bush at the same point in his tenure.
The Quinnipiac poll said 93 percent of respondents described the US economy as "not so good" or "poor," with just 28 percent saying it is improving, and 29 percent saying it is getting worse. Forty-one percent saw no change.
The survey also found that "by a 49-33 percent margin, voters think his policies will help the economy, but they believe, 36-33 percent, that Obama's policies will hurt their personal financial situation," Brown said.
Obama has pledged to overhaul the US health care system. He and most Democratic lawmakers want to introduce a public coverage option, while many Republican members of Congress and some conservative Democrats are against the idea.
On Tuesday a Harris Interactive online survey showed a majority of Americans are in favor, 52-30 percent, of having a government-run, health care option as proposed by Obama.
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