Obama’s Approval Slips Below 50 Percent

Fewer than 1 in 3 think the country is on the right track.

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President Barack Obama speaks at the Organizing for Action dinner in Washington, Wednesday, March 13, 2013.
President Obama's proposed budget would reportedly cap returns on high-end retirement accounts.

It's not cause for a swoon at the White House, but President Obama's job approval ratings aren't holding up very well as he deals with the hard realities of governing in a divided Washington.

Only 47 percent of Americans now approve of his job performance, a 6 percentage point decline since December, according to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. Forty-eight percent disapprove of his job performance. This is the first time Obama's approval has fallen below 50 percent in the NBC/Journal poll since his re-election last November.

[READ: Obama Searching for Key Victory]

Forty-seven percent approve of Obama's handling of the economy, a slight uptick of 3 percentage points from February. But, in what may be the most important finding of the poll, only 31 percent of Americans say the country is heading in the right direction, a decline of 10 percentage points since December.

"Despite majorities backing the broad outlines of his legislative priorities on immigration and guns, President Obama confronts a pessimistic public and declining poll numbers, " says Mark Murray, a spokesman for NBC News.

Strategists for both major parties say many Americans have suffered from wage stagnation and many are worried about their jobs. In addition, Obama appears to be suffering politically from his inability to hammer out compromises with Congress on major issues, including the budget.

[BROWSE: Political Cartoons on the Budget]

Obama strategists say he is addressing difficult problems and some of his decisions haven't been popular but his ideas are more in tune with the public than those of the Republicans.

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  • Ken Walsh covers the White House and politics for U.S. News. He writes the daily blog "Ken Walsh's Washington" for usnews.com, and is the author of "The Presidency" column for the U.S. News Weekly. He can be reached at kwalsh@usnews.com, and followed on Facebook and Twitter.