By SETH BORENSTEIN and ALAN FRAM, Associated Press Writers Seth Borenstein And Alan Fram, Associated Press Writers
WASHINGTON – The Gulf of Mexico oil spill hasn't stained President Barack Obama nor dimmed the public's desire for offshore energy drilling, according to a new Associated Press-GfK Poll.
While some conservative pundits, such as Rush Limbaugh, have called this "Obama's Katrina," that's not how the public feels, the poll found. BP PLC, which owned the well that has gushed more than 4 million gallons since an Apr. 20 oil rig explosion, is getting more of the public's ire.
More people surveyed said they approved of Obama's handling of the ongoing oil spill than disapproved, but not by large margins or with unusually strong feelings. It contrasts with the public's reaction to President George W. Bush's response to another Gulf disaster, 2005's Hurricane Katrina.
The poll found that 42 percent approve of Obama's actions, 33 percent disapprove and 21 percent say they have neutral feelings about his response.
The reaction is strongly along partisan lines. Democrats lean toward favoring Obama's actions, 58 percent to 19 percent, with 17 percent expressing neither approval nor disapproval. By 47 percent to 27 percent, Republicans disapprove of Obama's reaction, with 23 percent saying neither. Independents are about evenly split between approval and disapproval.