The American public is losing its patience with President Obama over his handling of the Gulf Coast oil spill.
In the five weeks since an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig sent hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil spilling into the Gulf of Mexico, Obama had largely escaped political fallout. But as BP attempts yet again to seal the leak, a new USA Today/Gallup Poll finds a majority of Americans unhappy with Obama's handling of the spill. According to the poll, 53 percent rate Obama's handling "poor" or "very poor"; 43 percent believe Obama is doing a good job.
Yet the poll also finds that the public tends to blame others in the mess more than it blames the White House. Asked broadly about the federal government's role, 60 percent rated the response "poor." BP got the lowest marks: 73 percent of Americans gave the company's handling of the spill a "poor" rating. Still, a whopping 68 percent say BP should remain in charge of the cleanup.
More than two-thirds of respondents called the gulf spill a "disaster," and of them, 37 percent considered it the "worst disaster in 100 years." Yet 52 percent of registered voters still support offshore drilling. That number is slightly down compared with other polls in recent weeks, including an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll this month in which nearly 60 percent of voters still agreed with offshore drilling.
What will no doubt give the White House pause is the shifting public sentiment on Obama's handling of the spill. Earlier this month, the president seemed to be escaping most of the public wrath over the disaster. An Associated Press poll released May 13 found mostly good-to-neutral marks for Obama's role in the mess: 42 percent approved, 33 percent disapproved and 21 percent said they were neutral.
But with the leak still unplugged and the economic and environmental impact only worsening, the White House has increasingly come under fire for not doing enough to handle the cleanup and control the spill. That includes criticism both from Republicans including Sarah Palin, who tried to make an issue of BP's donations to Obama's presidential campaign, and Democratic allies like James Carville, who slammed Obama for being too "hands off." (Continues)