At the end of Barack Obama's first year in office, the country is fairly divided on the job he's doing as president, according to a Fox News poll released Thursday.
Fifty percent of Americans approve of his job performance, less than half think he's meeting expectations, and nearly 2 out of 3 Americans are dissatisfied with the way things are going in the U.S. today, the poll found.
The president's job rating remains steady, as half of Americans approve of his performance and 42 percent disapprove. In December, 50 percent approved and 44 percent disapproved. Going back to the week after Obama took office last year, 65 percent of Americans approved and 16 percent disapproved.
Approval among Democrats remains almost exactly where it was when Obama took office: 84 percent approve today and 85 percent approved at the end of January 2009.
Among independents and Republicans, the president's numbers have declined significantly: 45 percent of independents approve today, down from 64 percent a year ago. And 13 percent of Republicans approve, down from 37 percent (27-28 January 2009).
Overall, Obama's average job rating over his first year is 55 percent approve and 35 percent disapprove.
Forty-two percent of Americans think Obama is meeting (36 percent) or exceeding (6 percent) expectations, down from 66 percent who thought so in March. Fifty percent think the president is falling below expectations — that's more than double the number (23 percent) who felt that way early in his term (3-4 March 2009).
About a third of Americans (35 percent) are satisfied with the way things are going in the country today. And while that's an improvement from a year ago when just 20 percent were happy with how things were going, it's down from 46 percent who were satisfied in April.
Similarly, the 64 percent who say they are dissatisfied with the way things are going in the country today is down from 79 percent one year ago — but an increase from 53 percent in April 2009.
Almost half of Americans (45 percent) think the country is better off today than it was a year ago, while a large minority says the country is worse off (39 percent) and 13 percent say there has been no change.
On the individual level, views are split between the 28 percent who say their family is better off today than a year ago and the 33 percent who say they are worse off, while the largest number — 39 percent — say their personal situation is unchanged.
The national telephone poll was conducted for Fox News by Opinion Dynamics Corp. among 900 registered voters from Jan. 12 to Jan. 13. For the total sample, the poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
No Improvement in Economy Ratings
The economy is far and away the issue the public wants President Obama to focus on this year. Almost half of Americans (48 percent) say the economy should be his priority, followed by 12 percent who say health care, 11 percent terrorism, and 7 percent the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
A year ago, just 5 percent of Americans rated the nation's economy positively, and there has been little movement: 8 percent rate the economy as "excellent" or "good" today.
Fully 91 percent of Americans say economic conditions today are "only fair" or "poor," and 82 percent think the country is still in a recession.
The poll finds people are most likely to blame former President Bush (36 percent) and Congress (30 percent) for the current state of the economy. Few — just 6 percent — blame President Obama. Some 20 percent blame a combination.
Slightly more Americans think the Obama administration has made the economy better (40 percent) than made it worse (36 percent). Another 21 percent think the administration has not made a difference.
In a December interview, President Obama told Oprah Winfrey he would give himself "a solid B-plus" for his first 11 months in office. One in five Americans would agree with that: 20 percent give him a B-plus or higher grade.
Most Americans would be tougher on the president, as 79 percent give him a grade lower than B-plus. Twenty-one percent give him a straight "B" and another 6 percent a B-minus, 25 percent give him a "C" and 16 percent a "D." And a handful — 12 percent — gives the president a failing grade.
Some 11 percent give the president an "A," including 3 percent who give him an A-plus.