Poll: Obama approval rating, popularity take a hit

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“You remove the electoral context and post-election celebration, and some of the numbers are returning to the dissatisfaction people had,” said Lee Miringoff, the director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion at Marist College in New York, in a statement. 

“Any glow from his reelection is starting to fade,” he said.

The president's declining poll numbers seem primarily driven by concerns over the economy and disappointment with Washington's inability to avert the sequester — $85 billion in across-the-board cuts to the federal budget.

Of the respondents, just 34 percent of voters say the country is headed in the right direction, despite record stock prices and declining unemployment. Moreover, 62 percent of those surveyed say the country remains in a recession, and just 22 percent say they'll be better off in the next year.

“This may be the downside of him coming out of the box stronger in the second term,” Miringoff said. “People are now looking for him to lead us out of this stalemate, provide more leadership. People see him as a strong figure and in the driver’s seat. During the election, it was him versus Romney. Now it’s him versus people’s expectations for the country.”

The president does continue to outpace Congress, and especially congressional Republicans. Just 26 percent of those surveyed approve of the job that GOP leaders on Capitol Hill are doing, and voters blame congressional Republicans over Obama for the failure to strike a sequester deal by a 45-37 margin.

Still, voters say they prefer the Republican approach to curbing deficits by a 44-42 percent margin — a sign that the president could struggle to win new revenues as part of a broad deficit deal.