Washington (CNN) - Americans approval of how President Barack Obama is handling the nation's economy has dropped to its lowest level of his presidency, according to a new national poll.
A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey indicates that 42 percent of the public approves of how Obama's dealing with the economy, down 2 points from March, with 57 percent disapproving of his performance on the economy, up 2 points from March. The survey's Friday release comes as the president made comments at the White House on what he termed the progress made this week on the economy and job recovery.
The poll suggests a wide partisan divide on the issue, with nearly eight in 10 Democrats giving the president a thumbs up and nearly nine in 10 Republicans disapproving of Obama's job on the economy. According to the survey, two-thirds of independents disapprove of the president's economic performance.
"The public hasn't given Obama good marks on the economy since last September, and his approval rating on the economy, now at 42 percent, has been stuck in the mid-to-low 40s throughout this year," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Part of the reason for that is that Americans haven't seen much to cheer about on the economic front. Nearly eight in ten say that economic conditions are somewhat poor or very poor."
While there were some vague signs of optimism in poll results earlier this year - when the number of Americans who said that the economy was in "very poor" shape had been slowly but steadily declining - that seems to have fizzled. Thirty-seven percent said things were in poor shape in our May poll; the same number feel that way now.
"Nonetheless, the Democrats are winning the battle for public opinion when it comes to deficit reduction versus job creation. Only a quarter say it is more important for the Obama administration to focus on the deficit; 74 percent say that creating jobs is more important," adds Holland.
Thursday the president signed the Unemployment Compensation Act of 2010, which restores unemployment benefits to two and a half million Americans who lost their jobs in the recession. The Republicans argued against the legislation, saying that the Democrats bill would add to the country's already massive budget deficit.\
According to the survey, the economy remains the No. 1 issue on the minds of Americans, with nearly half saying it is the most important problem facing the country. Only one other issue, the deficit, cracks double-digits, but only 13 percent pick the deficit as their top concern. Immigration, health care, and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq trail far behind.
The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation national poll was conducted July 16-21, before the passage of the extension of jobless benefits but after passage of the Wall Street and financial reform legislation. One-thousand and eighteen adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.
–CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report