The president still has a net favorable rating, with 50 percent approving of his performance and 39 percent disapproving. But as Mr. Obama has confronted challenges ranging from the economy to the war in Afghanistan to health care, public perception of his handling of his job has steadily fallen.
In April, Mr. Obama's approval rating was 68 percent. By August, it was down to 56 percent. It dropped to 53 percent last month before falling another three points in the latest poll.
Democrats still largely back the president, with 82 percent expressing their approval. Just 19 percent of Republicans approve of his performance, however, and independents are split: 43 percent approve of his performance and 41 percent disapprove.
Americans cite the economy as the issue most important to them, and on that issue the president's approval rating has been in decline. It now sits at 47 percent, down two points from last month and down seven points from October.
On health care, one in two Americans has an unfavorable view of the president. Just 42 percent have a favorable view.
The poll does show a bright spot for the president on Afghanistan, however. Forty-eight percent now approve of his performance in handling the war, up ten points from last month. Thirty-eight percent disapprove.
Mr. Obama's approval rating on Afghanistan stood at 58 percent in April, but it had been dropping before last week, when he gave a primetime address laying out his new strategy for the war. That strategy includes the deployment of 30,000 additional troops.
The increase in his approval rating on the issue can be attributed to improved perceptions by Republicans and independents. Forty-two percent of Republicans now approve of the president's handling of Afghanistan, up 19 points from last month. Forty-five percent of independents approve, an increase of 15 points.
The president's speech is not being widely hailed for clarifying his new strategy, however. Asked if Mr. Obama has clearly explained his plan for Afghanistan, just 42 percent of those surveyed said yes. Forty-seven percent said no.
While a slim majority approve of the president's plan to deploy more troops in Afghanistan, there is opposition to setting a date for troop withdrawal. For more on that portion of the poll, check out this post on findings on Afghanistan.
This poll was conducted among a random sample of 1,031 adults nationwide, interviewed by telephone December 4-8, 2009. Phone numbers were dialed from random digit dial samples of both standard land-line and cell phones. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus three percentage points. The error for subgroups is higher.
This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.