Obama avoiding blame, but approvals sag

President Obama retains strong approval ratings six months into his term, but there are signs that support may be slipping.

The number of people who approve of Obama’s job performance has slipped and now hovers between 56 percent and 60 percent, depending on the poll. That’s down from the mid- and high 60s he once enjoyed.

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On specific issues, Obama’s numbers are down across the board. The number of people who approve of his handling of the economy is down eight points in four months, to 52 percent, according to a Washington Post/ABC News poll released Monday. He’s slipped nine points on healthcare and nine points on handling the federal deficit, as well.

But respondents overwhelmingly prefer the White House handle those issues than congressional Republicans, who would offer other alternatives. The public chooses Obama over the GOP by 23 points on the economy, by 20 points on healthcare reform and by 19 points on managing the deficit.

By contrast, President George W. Bush never enjoyed more than a 15-point advantage over Democrats, and then only in the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks when his popularity hit record highs.

After one of the busiest first six months in any administration since Franklin Roosevelt's, most say Obama is doing about the right amount on key issues.

But serious concern exists about the president’s workload. A quarter of voters say he’s done too much on healthcare reform, while a fifth say he hasn’t done enough. And nearly two in five respondents said Obama has done too little to manage the federal budget deficit.

Bush is still taking heat for the economy. Three in five voters say the Bush administration is to blame for the country’s economic situation, while just 32 percent say the Obama administration is at fault.

The poll surveyed 1,001 adults July 15-18 for a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent.

Meanwhile, another poll shows Democrats with far better approval ratings than Republicans, even as the GOP attempts to vilify Democratic leaders in Congress for irresponsible spending.

Forty-seven percent approve of the job Democrats are doing in Congress, while 48 percent disapprove. Just 36 percent approve of the GOP’s job performance, while 58 percent view that performance negatively.

Voters still see Congress in a negative light on the whole. Just 22 percent approved of the job Congress is doing, according to a CBS News poll conducted July 9-12. Nearly two in three voters disapprove of Congress’s job performance, that poll showed.

This story was updated at 1:17 p.m.