NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is suffering so-called "third term-itis," with only 40 percent of voters approving of his job as good or excellent, a poll found on Thursday, down nearly 30 percent from 2008.
The NY1-Marist Poll also showed that 53 percent of New Yorkers believed the city is moving in the wrong direction, a turnaround from early February when 52 percent said the city was heading in the right direction.
"On the one hand it's a taste of third term-itis, which is not uncommon," said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, referring to voter disaffection that sets in during an official's third term.
"But I think also this has been a rough winter and then there has been the one, two punch of people not liking his handling of the budget and people not liking his handling of the school system," he said.
Bloomberg has proposed laying off thousands of teachers in his budget for fiscal 2012 and wants to end the practice of eliminating the most-recently hired. For the second year in a row, he has cut total spending in his budget.
He was also criticized for a botched city cleanup of a December 26-27 blizzard that left many neighborhoods buried under snow for days. Many believe Bloomberg was out of town for the holiday, and he refuses to account for his whereabouts.
The telephone poll of 772 New Yorkers -- conducted March 22-24 -- found 38 percent of voters rated Bloomberg's job performance as fair and 21 percent rated it poor.
In a February poll, 44 percent gave him above average marks, 29 percent thought he was doing a fair job and 26 percent said his job performance was poor.
Miringoff said Bloomberg's approval had hit a high of 68 percent in 2008. The same year the independent mayor flirted with a run for president, but has publicly denied he has such aspirations.
A Quinnipiac University poll showed two weeks ago that a 51 percent majority disapproved of Bloomberg's performance and 39 percent approved -- his lowest rating since November 2003.
Bloomberg ran for a third term in 2009 after pushing the City Council to overturn a voter-approved term limits law. The 69-year-old is worth $18 billion, Forbes estimates, and spent more than $260 million of his own money on three campaigns.
The billionaire founder of the financial news and information company that bears his name has been mentioned as a possible U.S. senator, New York governor or U.S. cabinet secretary. He dismisses such talk and says he will dedicate himself to philanthropy when his final mayoral term expires at the end of 2013.
The poll had a margin of error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
(Reporting by Michelle Nichols, editing by Todd Eastham)