Poll: Obama's ratings fall amid Gulf oil spill

Wed Jun 23, 2010 9:30pm EDT

(Refiles to correct day to Wednesday)

WASHINGTON, June 23 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama's job performance rating has dropped to the lowest level of his presidency as Americans grow less confident in his leadership, according to an opinion poll published on Wednesday.

Obama's rating stood at 45 percent in the Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, down 5 points from early last month. For the first time in the survey, more people -- 48 percent -- say they disapprove of Obama's job performance.

A majority of respondents, 62 percent, said the country was on the wrong track.

Forty-nine percent of those surveyed rate Obama positively on "strong leadership qualities," down from 70 percent when he became president and a drop of 8 points since January.

The poll also showed growing concern over the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and slipping confidence in Obama's handling of the environmental disaster that has shut down rich fishing grounds and soiled the coastlines of four U.S. states.

In the two months since the spill started, Obama has made four visits to the Gulf and pressured BP to agree to a $20 billion account to help pay for relief.

Half the poll respondents said they disapprove of Obama's handling of the spill, including one in four Democrats. Forty percent of respondents rate him positively on his "ability to handle a crisis," was down 11 points since January.

The oil spill has slightly changed Americans' attitudes about offshore drilling, the poll found.

In May, 60 percent of respondents said they favor more offshore drilling off the U.S. coast. In this poll, support slipped to 53 percent and nearly two-thirds of respondents said they wanted more regulation of oil companies.

The poll of 1,000 people was conducted June 17-21 and has a margin for error of plus-minus 3.1 percentage points. (Reporting by JoAnne Allen; Editing by Chris Wilson)