Obama's Election Glow Fades as Recession, War Drag On

The rhapsody of Election Day 2008 couldn't last.

The glow of election nights, even one as historic as Barack Obama's, inevitably fade, and everyone knew the high spirits of the inauguration would fall prey to the rigors of the recession, two wars and bailouts -- costing popularity points along the way.

Indeed, a year after Obama's election, the president has lost a bit of his shine in the eyes of the public. He's still relatively popular but surveys suggest public confidence in Obama's ability to carry out his ambitious plans has eroded.

According to Gallup, the gap between the president's approval and disapproval rating has narrowed steadily, falling from a spread of 56 points on Inauguration Day to 17 points in late October.

An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll taken Oct. 22-25 showed impressions of Obama as honest and straightforward fell from 41 percent to 33 percent. His rating as a firm and decisive leader also fell from 37 percent to 27 percent.

"His ratings on leadership, decisiveness, getting things done are declining and declining markedly," said Democratic pollster Doug Schoen, who worked in the Clinton White House.

A Washington Post/ABC News poll taken Oct. 15-18 also showed confidence that the president will make the right decisions for the country declined from 61 percent to 49 percent. And the public is split down the middle on Obama's record to date. The same survey found 49 percent believe Obama has accomplished a good or great deal, while 50 percent say he's accomplished little or nothing.

"Detailed evaluations of him are going down and going down precipitously on key measures that are critically important to a president," Schoen said.

But the president's general popularity is still resistant to the doubts about his performance.

Gallup shows his approval rating remains at 53 percent. The Wall Street Journal poll found 54 percent consider Obama to be easy-going and likable -- exactly the number who said so in January.

"The good news for Barack Obama is that people like him," said presidential historian Douglas Brinkley, adding that his brand has not been "overly tarnished or diminished" in the year since his election.

Obama, however, does not seem to acknowledge that the public has had any second thoughts.

"If we stop now, if we didn't do anything else for the next three months, we would have had one of the most productive legislative sessions in decades," Obama said in one recent moment of self-assessment.

In the wake of Tuesday's elections, in which GOP candidates won the governor's races in two states Obama claimed last year -- New Jersey and Virginia -- Republicans warn that voters are bristling at Obama's policies.

But White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters Wednesday that while voters went to the polls in both states concerned about the economy, they were working through "very local issues that didn't involve the president."

"Voters are concerned about the economy," Gibbs said. "The president didn't need an election or an exit poll to learn that."

The Wall Street Journal poll surveyed 1,009 adults and had a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points. The Washington Post poll surveyed 1,004 adults and had a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

Fox News' Major Garrett contributed to this report.