The approval rating of U.S. President Barack Obama has dropped significantly with the increase in gasoline prices, according to two separate opinion polls.

“In the new poll, 46 per cent approve of the way Mr. Obama is handling his job, while 50 per cent disapprove. That’s a mirror image of his 50 to 46 positive split in early February,” said the latest opinion poll released by The Washington Post-ABC News.

Obama poll rating “sinks to a new low” reported The New York Times-CBS News poll here on Monday, adding that the drop may be partially attributable to rising gas prices.

“Just 41 per cent of Americans approve of the job Mr. Obama is doing as President,” according to the poll, conducted from March 7 to 11.

Another 47 per cent disapprove of his performance, up from 41 per cent last month.

Mr. Obama’s approval rating was 50 per cent last month, said The New York Times-CBS news poll.

However, Gallup poll in its latest survey said that Obama’s approval rating has improved.

“Mr. Obama’s job approval rating was at 43 per cent as last week began. His rating improved to 48 per cent by mid-week before rising to 49 per cent over the weekend, suggesting that he was on the upswing even before Friday’s jobs report,” it said.

Gallup said Mr. Obama appears to have benefited from Americans’ significantly improved view of the national economy, including the positive jobs report released on Friday.

The American President’s weekly average job approval rating of 48 per cent is up from his 45 per cent average for the month of February.

“Mr. Obama’s approval rating dropped substantially in recent weeks, the poll found, with 41 per cent of respondents expressing approval of the job he is doing and 47 per cent saying they disapprove - a dangerous position for any incumbent seeking re-election,” The New York Times said.

Mr. Obama in an interview acknowledged that increase in gasoline prices is frustrating to his countrymen.

“Understandably people are frustrated when gas prices are going up, and there are things we can do, but they’re not going to result, provide results overnight,” Obama told the CBS Pittsburgh affiliate KDKA in an interview.

The American dependence on foreign oil under his administration has reduced, he said, adding that fuel efficiency standards for cars are being raised.

Though he is exploring other ways to reduce prices, Obama said the biggest contributor to the current high prices is rumours of war in the Middle East.

“Which is part of the reason I said a couple weeks ago let’s stop with the loose talk about war. Because a lot of what’s driving this is people’s concern and fear that there might be major disruptions in the Middle East oil markets,” Mr. Obama said.

The Washington Post said Mr. Obama’s drop in approval rating is particularly pronounced among low-income households that may be feeling the pinch of the higher gas prices - as well as increases in prices for groceries and some retail items - more than others.

“The decline in Obama’s approval rating has occurred as more attention has been made to prices at the gas pump and as Republican presidential candidates have sometimes tries to connect the price increases to the Obama administration’s approach to Iran. They have also been highlighting concerns about Iran’s nuclear program,” the daily said.

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