WASHINGTON — While 50 percent of the American people approve of how President Barack Obama is doing his job overall, a 41 percent plurality disapproves of how he's handling the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and only 33 percent approve, according to a new Ipsos-McClatchy poll.
That discontent with the president's handling of the worst environmental disaster in American history helps explain why Obama is making the first Oval Office address of his presidency Tuesday night to try to reassure the public that he's on top of the Gulf disaster.
Some 21 percent neither approve nor disapprove of Obama's handling of the spill, and 5 percent were unsure, the Ipsos-McClatchy poll found. The survey of 1,071 adults was taken June 10-13 and has an error margin of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
Despite the Gulf spill, 62 percent of Americans said that offshore oil drilling remains necessary to boost U.S. energy independence, with only 32 percent saying it's a bad idea because of risks to the environment, and 5 percent unsure. That's slightly more support for offshore drilling than the 60 percent that favored it and 35 percent that opposed it the previous month.
On another topic, the poll found the American people evenly split on Israel's recent blockade of Gaza, with 40 percent approving of it and 40 percent disapproving. Some 21 percent strongly supported Israel, and 22 percent strongly opposed its action, with 20 percent unsure.
Only 24 percent of self-described Democrats supported Israel's blockade, with 56 percent opposed. Republicans were more supportive of the Israeli action, with 58 percent favoring it and 28 percent opposed. Independents split 40 percent in favor and 28 percent opposed to the blockade.
The American people were marginally more pessimistic on the state of the U.S. economy, with 49 percent saying it's stabilized but hasn't begun to improve, down from 55 percent who said that in late February. Fully 34 percent said in mid-June that the worst is yet to come, up from 31 percent in late February.
In addition, 61 percent said that the country is on the wrong track, with 33 percent saying it's headed in the right direction and 6 percent not sure. Technically, that's the most pessimistic reading on the question since Obama took office, though only one point more negative than the month before, a change that has no statistical significance.
MORE FROM MCCLATCHY