The economy may be getting better, but 50 percent of Americans say President Barack Obama's first term has been a failure, according to a recent poll.

Another 44 percent of respondents in a USA Today/Gallup poll considered Obama a success so far. Still, the poll has good news for the president, whose re-election hinges on the health and pace of the economy.

Americans are increasingly upbeat about the economy. By 3-1, they say it's expanding. Six in 10 predict it will be growing a year from now, USA Today's Susan Page wrote.

However, the country has mixed views on Obama's politics and stewardship of the economy. While 58 percent surveyed said Obama has the personality and leadership qualities needed in a president, less than half, 47 percent, agreed with him on their top issues; 51 percent said he was too liberal.

Besides the economy, Obama's re-election hopes are tied to Americans' feelings about his Republican rivals.

For Mitt Romney, 53 percent of Americans feel he has presidential qualities, on par with Rick Santorum, a former senator from Pennsylvania.

On the issues that matter most to Americans, 42 percent of voters said Romney and Santorum agree with them. On the political leanings of the GOP candidates, 36 percent said Romney was about right while 38 percent said Santorum is too conservative.

Meanwhile, most Republican voters surveyed said they wish there was another candidate running for the the party's nomination.