By David Morgan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Americans say Republicans in Congress would do a better job than Democrats in dealing with the U.S. budget, according to a poll released on Friday that shows President Barack Obama's party at a disadvantage as lawmakers near another showdown over federal spending.
The poll's findings underscore the challenge facing Obama as he seeks public support for his proposals for tackling a growing U.S. budget deficit -- an issue that could play a key role in the president's efforts to win re-election in 2012.
The USA Today/Gallup survey of 1,013 U.S. adults looked at whether Americans expressed more confidence in the ability of Republicans or Democrats in Congress to deal with six major issues facing the country.
The federal budget was the only issue in which respondents clearly preferred one party over the other, with 48 percent favoring Republicans and 36 percent Democrats.
The poll found that Americans favored Republicans by smaller margins on four other issues: Afghanistan, the U.S. economy, immigration and jobs. Democrats held a small advantage on handling healthcare, the poll found.
The poll, conducted April 20-23, had a 4 percentage-point margin of error.
The federal budget shortfall is forecast to hit $1.4 trillion in the current fiscal year, which ends September 30.
Congress takes up the budget fight again next week when lawmakers return from their annual spring break, with a showdown looming over federal spending in the 2012 fiscal year that begins October 1.
Republicans this spring used the threat of a government shutdown to win concessions on fiscal 2011 spending cuts from Obama and his fellow Democrats.
A frontline battle will be over an approaching vote to raise the $14.3 trillion federal debt ceiling, which Republicans intend to use as leverage to exact new spending reductions.
Analysts say failure to raise the debt limit could have dire consequences for world financial markets and America's financial future. The United States will reach the ceiling by mid-May, but the Treasury Department says it can avoid default until July 8.