The economy is in a better position now than it was when President Obama took office, Democrats argued Tuesday.

The White House and a top congressional leader made the case that the economy has improved under Democratic control of government, though polls showed voters are less convinced.

"I think by virtually any measure, our economy is a better place than it was two years ago," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said at his daily briefing.

The assertion came amid new polls showing confidence slipping in Democrats' ability to handle the economy. 

Forty-six percent of U.S. adults said they trust Republicans to handle the economy, compared to 43 percent who trust Democrats, according to a CNN/Opinion research poll released Tuesday. That's a reversal from just a year ago, when Americans trusted Democrats, 53-39 percent, over Republicans to handle the economy.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), the chairman of House Democrats' campaign committee, said that while the economy was fragile, it was still improved.

"We're a lot better off than we were 18 months ago, but we're not where we want to be," he said Tuesday morning during an appearance on CNN.

The economy is the central issue to this fall's midterm elections. 

Republicans have repeatedly argued that the Obama administration's $787 stimulus has been a failure, a point underscored by dismal economic reports that continue to flow. 

"Nothing says out of touch quite like White House staff arguing that the economy has improved to a daytime TV audience that includes viewers who’ve been fighting to find a job ever since the day Obama got his," a Senate GOP aide said in response to Gibbs and Van Hollen.

"I think the American people are not concerned about the president's poll numbers. I think the American people are concerned about whether or not they have a job, how they're going to pay their bills, the future of their children," Gibbs said. "I think that's what the American people are concerned about, and that's the task that the president will spend every day worrying about."

Updated 3:34 p.m.