Polls Show Americans Unhappy With Obama’s Handling Of Oil Spill

KRISTIN CALLAHAN - ACEPIXS.COM/Newscom
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President Obama is doubling down on the rhetoric when it comes to the crisis in the Gulf this weekend, but it’s not yet clear if that will be enough to stop the slide in public support for the way he’s handled the worst oil spill in American history.

Yesterday, USA Today made a splash with its new poll, conducted in conjunction with Gallup (margin of error: 4%), showing 53% of Americans gave Obama a “poor” rating when it comes to handling the oil spill. But that poll is just one of many showing public trust in the White House’s ability to handle the crisis has declined since the spill first began in late April.

Most of the polls show slight majorities disapprove of the way the President has run things since the oil spill began. When put in contrast with the epically terrible ratings given to BP by the public in the same polls, the Obama slide may seem slight. But for a White House trying to shake accusations — however ridiculous — that the spill has become a new Katrina the numbers show that the administration has work to do before it regains public confidence.A May 23 CNN national poll shows 51% of voters disapprove of Obama’s handling of the spill, while 46% approve. Those numbers are in line with a poll from CBS taken around the same time that showed 35% of respondents approved of Obama’s handling of the crisis while 45% disapproved. The margin of error for both polls is 3%.

Compare that with national polls from Fox News taken in the early days of the crisis. On May 5, 50% of respondents to the Fox poll said they approved of what Obama was doing to take care of things in the Gulf, while just 29% disapproved. Two weeks later, as oil continued to pour from the ocean floor, there were signs that the public was starting to grow nervous about Obama’s handling of things. In the May 19 Fox News poll, Obama’s oil spill approval rating was 44-36. Both Fox polls have a margin of error of 3%.

Obama is headed to the Gulf tomorrow, and just wrapped up a televised press conference on the crisis at the White House. But as he steps up, it remains to be seen if the public is ready to get back on board with his handling of the oil spill.

Still, at least Obama’s not BP. Polls have consistently shown the public has little faith in the company. One example: in a May 10 NBC/Telemundo poll (margin of error: 3.1%), just 11% of respondents said they approved of the job the company has done in the wake of the offshore drilling rig explosion that marked the beginning of the crisis.

Research assistance by Polling Fellow Thomas Rhiel and polling intern Marc Kilstein.

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