WASHINGTON — Americans have become just as dissatisfied with President Barack Obama's work on the Gulf oil spill as they were with his predecessor's handling of Hurricane Katrina, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll released Tuesday.
Even so, the catastrophe appears not to have taken a toll on how Americans view the president overall. Obama's approval rating remained steady in the poll and he is more popular than President George W. Bush was two months after the hurricane.
Bush alone took the hit in public perceptions. In the spill, much anger is steered at BP, and the poll suggests Americans do not feel quite the sense of shame that afflicted them in the 2005 hurricane aftermath.
Still, Obama and his administration have struggled to contain the environmental disaster in the Gulf and now, it seems, to convince people that the government is acting effectively.
Most Americans are angry about the government's slow response, the poll finds, with 54 percent saying they had strong feelings about the bureaucracy's reaction. Many doubt that Washington could really help them if they were a disaster victim.
The survey found that 52 percent don't approve of Obama's handling of the spill, a significant increase from last month when a big chunk of Americans withheld judgment. A stunning 83 percent disapprove of BP's performance in the aftermath of the explosion that set off the spill. That percentage of Americans disapproving also was a huge jump from May.
Back then, people seemed to take a more wait-and-see approach.
The survey comes as the president seeks to show more forceful leadership on the disaster and convince a skeptical public he's up to the task. He was wrapping up a two-day visit to the region Tuesday before giving an Oval Office prime-time speech on the spill and meeting BP executives at the White House a day later.