Associated Press
In this Jan. 21, 2009, file photo President Barack Obama speaks to his senior staff to assert expectations on ethics and conduct on the White House campus in Washington.

WASHINGTON (MCT) — President Barack Obama's approval rating has taken a hit in a new poll that shows a growing frustration with the president's handling of the economy.

The Washington Post/ABC poll found that 46 percent of people approve of the Obama's job performance, while 50 percent disapprove. That's a reversal of the president's ratings just last month, when his approval hit 50 percent for the first time in that survey in nearly a year.

The quick drop coincides with a spike in gas prices and an increase in criticism from Obama's Republican rivals on the issue, even as the economy has shown noticeable signs of growth.

But the poll underscored how rising gas prices — always a political peril for presidents — threaten to keep Obama from reaping the rewards of the good economic news. Obama's top rivals, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, were running roughly even with the president.

The poll found 65 percent of those surveyed disapproved of Obama's handling of gas prices, even though just half of those surveyed said they believed there was anything the administration could do to bring down the cost of gas.

Still, the number of people expressing disapproval with Obama's handling of the broader economy has risen — jumping to 59 percent from 52 percent a month ago. And those feelings appear to be intensifying. The percentage of people who strongly disapproved reached 50 percent for the first time.

The poll surveyed a national sample of 1,003 adults and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

The Post reports that the poll showed independents shifting away from the president, with 57 percent saying they disapprove of his job performance. The president also won poor marks from white people without college degrees.

The poll picked up on another potential vulnerability for the president. Approval for the president's handling of the war in Afghanistan has been sliding in recent months and a strong majority — 60 percent — said they did not believe the war is "worth fighting for." The survey was taken last week, before a U.S. soldier reportedly went on a shooting rampage that killed 16 civilians.