Though Americans still blame former President George W. Bush for the ailing economy, Barack Obama faces dropping approval ratings amid doubts that he has a clear plan for fixing the economy.
A FOX News poll released Thursday shows approval of Obama's job performance at a new low of 54 percent. That is down from 62 percent in June. The president's job approval rating has averaged 61 percent over the first six months of his term.
As Democrats continue to be happy with their party leader (86 percent approve) and Republicans continue to be cool to Obama (75 percent disapprove), everyone is tracking how independents feel. Some 54 percent of independents approve of the job Obama is doing, down from 66 percent last month, and 36 percent disapprove, up from 26 percent (9-10 June 2009).
Obama's approval rating is lower on the top issues of the day. On health care, 43 percent of Americans say they approve of the job the president is doing and 45 percent disapprove. On the economy, 50 percent approve and 43 percent disapprove.
• Click here to see the full poll results.
Americans put fixing the economy (36 percent) as the top priority for the federal government right now, followed by creating jobs (21 percent). Reducing the deficit (12 percent) and reforming health care (12 percent) receive the same double-digit support, followed by handling the situation with Iran and North Korea (7 percent).
"The president's challenge will be to position health care reform as an everyday 'pocket book' issue and not a government takeover of a large part of the economy," said Ernest Paicopolos, a principal of Opinion Dynamics Corporation.
Opinion Dynamics Corp. conducted the national telephone poll of 900 registered voters for FOX News from July 21 to July 22. The poll has a 3-point error margin.
By a wide margin, Americans think former President Bush is more responsible for the current state of the nation's economy (61 percent blame Bush and 16 percent Obama). And despite the trillions spent by the Obama administration to try to revive the economy, far more Americans blame Bush for the current size of the budget deficit: 53 percent think Bush is more responsible and 28 percent say Obama.
On the economic stimulus plan, nearly half of Americans — 45 percent — say it has been about as effective as they expected. Some 43 percent say the stimulus was less effective than they expected — that's more than five times as many as say it was more effective (8 percent).
Twice as many Americans say that if there had been no stimulus plan the economy would be worse off today (36 percent) as say it would be in better shape (18 percent), while 41 percent think the economy would be in about the same shape as it is today, without the $787 billion dollars of taxpayer money.
Overall, 40 percent think Obama has made the economy better, which is slightly higher than the 32 percent who think the administration has made things worse. Nearly one in four (23 percent) say the administration has made no difference.
Americans don't think anyone has a plan for the economy. While 42 percent of voters think the Obama administration has a clear plan for fixing the economy, a 53 percent majority says he doesn't. Congress gets even lower marks: 21 percent think it has a clear plan for the economy, while most — 73 percent — disagree.
Regardless of how they voted in the presidential election, almost all Americans — 84 percent — say they want President Obama to succeed, including 97 of Democrats, 67 percent of Republicans and 85 percent of independents.
When this question was asked about President Bush, 63 percent of Americans said they wanted him to succeed, including 40 percent of Democrats, 90 percent of Republicans and 63 percent of independents (8-9 August 2006).
There's a Czar for That
While the use of czars is nothing new — several presidents including George W. Bush and Franklin D. Roosevelt have had them — no president has employed as many as Obama. The current count in the Obama administration is 32 czars, with more pending.
The poll finds many Americans (41 percent) are comfortable with the use of czars as advisors, even though they don't have to be confirmed by the Senate. Nearly half (46 percent) are concerned the administration is trying to get around congressional oversight by appointing these advisors who do not need congressional approval.
Half of the public has another worry. Whether it is czars, cabinet members or other aides, 51 percent think it would be better to have fewer people reporting to the president.
Click here for the raw data.