WASHINGTON – A majority of Americans disapprove of the way President Barack Obama is handling the economy -- with a record number who "disapprove strongly" -- amid soaring gas prices and an uncertain fiscal future, a new Washington Post-ABC News survey out Monday found.
The poll found that 50 percent of those surveyed strongly disapprove of Obama's economic performance -- the highest in the poll's history. A total of 59 percent gave the president negative marks on the economy.
With rising gas prices hitting Americans at the pump, 65 percent said they found Obama's handling of the issue unsatisfactory. Of that number, 52 percent were said to "disapprove strongly" and only 14 percent "approve strongly" of Obama's performance on gas prices.
However, it appeared that the responses could have been based in part on political ideology, with Democrats less likely than Republicans to say that gas prices have taken a toll on their families, the study found.
The president also fared poorly on other issues. Sixty-three percent of Americans gave him negative marks on the country's budget deficit, while just 16 percent strongly approved of his work in that area. Asked about the White House's energy policy, 48 percent disapproved with Obama's performance.
Obama's handling of foreign policy, and specifically the war in Afghanistan, was almost evenly split between those who approved and disapproved -- 46 percent approved while 47 percent disapproved.
Regarding the president's overall job performance, 50 percent said they were unhappy with Obama and 39 percent strongly disapproved of his performance, while just 28 percent strongly agreed that he was doing a good job.
Asked who they would vote for if the presidential election were held today, 47 percent said they would vote for Obama if his opponent was former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney -- but he would not be re-elected as 49 percent threw their support behind Romney.
Pitted against former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, Obama received 49 percent to Santorum's 46 percent.
The telephone survey -- conducted from Wednesday to Saturday among 1,003 adults nationwide -- came as the Labor Department's employment report Friday showed that the US economy added 227,000 jobs in February, continuing an upward trend.
The survey had a margin of error of four percentage points.