WASHINGTON -- Americans' views on the economy have dimmed this summer. But so far, the growing pessimism doesn't seem to be taking a toll on President Barack Obama's re-election prospects.
More people now believe the country is headed in the wrong direction, a new Associated Press-GfK poll shows, and confidence in Obama's handling of the economy has slipped from just a few months ago, notably among fellow Democrats.
The survey found that 86 percent of adults see the economy as "poor," up from 80 percent in June. About half -- 49 percent -- said it worsened in the past month. Only 27 percent responded that way in the June survey. The poll was taken Aug. 18-22.
That can't be good news for a president revving up his re-election campaign. Yet there are several hopeful signs for Obama.
Despite the perception of a weakening recovery, there has been no significant change in the number of people who say he deserves re-election: 47 percent as opposed to 48 percent two months ago. That's a statistical dead heat with those who favor a change in the White House.
And more Americans still blame former President George W. Bush rather than Obama for the economic distress. Some 31 percent put the bulk of the blame on Obama, while 51 percent point to his Republican predecessor.
The poll finds the tea party has lost support, Republican House Speaker John Boehner is increasingly unpopular, and people are warming to the idea of not just cutting spending but also raising taxes -- anathema to the GOP -- just as both parties prepare for another struggle with deficit reduction.
To be sure, there is plenty of discontent to go around. The poll finds more people are down on their own member of Congress, not just the institution, an unusual finding in surveys and one bound to make incumbents particularly nervous. In interviews, some people said the debt standoff itself, which caused a crisis of confidence to ripple through world markets, made them wonder whether lawmakers are able to govern at all.
The survey found that approval of Congress has dropped to its lowest level in AP-GfK polling -- 12 percent. That's down from 21 percent in June, before the debt deal reached fever pitch.