LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

President Obama's poll numbers are heading in the wrong direction, especially as it relates to the economy and the Republicans.

While most Americans favored Obama over the Republicans on economic issues after the president's re-election in November, more recent polls indicate that advantage is now gone.

"Public approval of his handling of the economy has slipped, according to polls, and surveys now show that a roughly equal number of Americans favor Mr. Obama as favor Congressional Republicans on economic matters," reports the FiveThirtyEight blog of The New York Times.

The lower numbers create a bigger political challenge for Obama as he seeks to reduce the national debt with a combination of budget cuts and higher taxes on the wealthy. Congressional Republicans oppose increased taxes.

Obama and congressional Republicans also figure to tangle later this year over a proposed increased in the debt ceiling.

From the Times:

"In December 2012 and January 2013, polls found that roughly half of Americans had more faith in Mr. Obama's economic stewardship, while just over a third of respondents said they had more faith in the economic stewardship of Congressional Republicans. Since December, however, Mr. Obama's standing has declined by roughly 10 percentage points, while Republicans in Congress have gained 4 or 5 percentage points.

"Other pollsters, asking slightly different questions, have also found that the White House and Congressional Republicans are now on more equal fiscal footing. A Fox News poll conducted this week found when 'it comes to handling the budget deficit,' 44% of registered voters agreed more with Mr. Obama, while 41% agreed more with Republicans.

"A CNN poll conducted March 15 to 17 found that respondents were split in whom they preferred on handling of 'the federal budget and the way the government raises and spends money,' 47% for Mr. Obama and 46% for Republicans."

LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE