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Poll: Obama Not Blamed For Economy

While Americans have become slightly more optimistic about the economy, they continue to have overwhelmingly negative perceptions of the current economic situation overall, a new CBS News/New York Times poll finds.

But while 82 percent of those surveyed say the economy is in fairly or very bad shape, just four percent blame President Obama, who has now been in office for slightly more than six months.

Instead, they blame the administration of his predecessor, George W. Bush (30 percent), Wall Street and financial institutions (29 percent), and Congress (12 percent).

Mr. Obama is seen as a better steward of the economy than Republicans in Congress. Asked who will make better decisions on the economy, a majority of those surveyed (56 percent) cited Mr. Obama. Just one in four pointed to Congressional Republicans. Still, Republicans have gained some ground here: In April, 63 percent said Mr. Obama would make better decisions.

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Overall, Mr. Obama's approval rating now stands at 58 percent. That's about where it stood two weeks ago, though it reflects a decline of five points from June and ten points from April. His approval rating on foreign policy is 54 percent, while his approval rating on the economy stands at 51 percent.

Mr. Obama has a lower rating on handling health care, however, the reform of which is his top legislative agenda. Forty-six percent approve of his handling of health care, down from 49 percent two weeks ago. And on the budget deficit, Mr. Obama's approval rating is just 40 percent. The deficit is the only area where more Americans disapprove than approve of the president's performance.

The State Of The Economy:

While just 18 percent of Americans believe the economy is in at least fairly good shape, the poll suggests they have become slightly more optimistic than they were just two weeks ago. The percentage who say the economy is "very bad" has fallen nine points to 35 percent, while the percentage who say it is "fairly good" has increased four points.

The percentage who says the economy is "very bad" is now back to where it stood in May and June, before the release of worse than expected unemployment figures.

Thirty-two percent say the economy is getting better, up from 21 percent two weeks ago. Twenty-two percent say it is getting worse, down from 33 percent on July 13. The latest numbers roughly match perceptions back in May.

Concern about household job loss has fluctuated. Thirty-six percent now say they are "very concerned." That's down from 40 percent two weeks ago, but equal to the percentage who were "very concerned" in June.

Twenty-six percent, meanwhile, are "somewhat concerned" about household job loss, while 38 percent say they are not concerned.

While the majority of Americans say their family's financial situation is staying the same (57 percent), more than one in three say it is getting worse. Just eight percent say their family's financial situation is improving.

The Stimulus Package:

Most Americans do not think President Obama's nearly $800 billion economic stimulus package has had a positive effect, though many still believe it will improve the economy in the long run.

Just one in four Americans say the stimulus package has made things better nationwide, and even fewer - 19 percent - have seen a positive impact in their local community. Fifty-seven percent say the stimulus has had no impact nationwide, and 13 percent say it has actually made things worse.

A higher percentage - 44 percent - expects the stimulus to eventually make things better nationwide, however. Twenty-eight percent expect it to have no impact, while 22 percent say it will make things worse.

Still, that means more Americans overall expect the stimulus package to have a negative impact or no impact (50 percent) than expect it to improve the economy (44 percent).

Fifty-three percent of those surveyed say the stimulus package will create jobs, while 41 percent say it will not. Only four percent say it has created jobs already, despite the Obama administration's efforts to convince Americans that the package has done so.

There is clear opposition to a second stimulus package. Just 27 percent of those surveyed favor another stimulus package, while 65 percent oppose it.

The War Front:

Americans continue to be far more optimistic about the situation in Iraq than the situation in Afghanistan. While 56 percent say things are going well for the U.S. in Iraq (37 percent say things are going badly), just 33 percent say they are going well for the U.S. in Afghanistan. Fifty-seven percent say things are going badly for the U.S. in Afghanistan.

The percentage who says things are going well in Iraq has fallen, however, from 71 percent in April to 62 percent in June to 56 percent today. Perceptions of the situation in Afghanistan have been relatively stable.

More from the CBS News poll released Wednesday:

Poll: Obama Not Blamed For Economy

Poll: Public Conflicted Over Health Reform

Poll: Many Blacks Say Police Treat Them Unfairly

Poll: Americans Want Deficit Reduced

Video: Polling Director Sarah Dutton Discusses the Poll

This poll was conducted among a random sample of 1050 adults nationwide, interviewed by telephone July 24-28, 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.