Thursday, March 5, 2009

Approval Ratings - Does Obama Have Anything to Worry About?

A new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released Tuesday shows Obama doing well with public opinion.

In the survey, 68 percent have a favorable opinion of the president, including 47 percent whose opinion is "very positive" — both all-time highs for Obama in the poll. Moreover, 67 percent say they feel more hopeful about his leadership and 60 percent approve of his job in the White House.

Yet the percentage of Americans who are confident that Obama has the right goals and policies for the country — 54 percent — is slightly smaller, suggesting that the president is more popular than his policies are.

On the other side of the spectrum, Republicans are taking a lot of heat for being too partisan.

Just 26 percent view the Republican Party positively, which is an all-time low for the party. That's compared with 49 percent who have a favorable view of the Democratic Party.

On the economy, not only do voters believe Democrats are better suited for fixing it than Republicans (48%-20%), but they are giving Obama a long leash. Only after 18 more months of recession (by September 2010) will the majority of voters blame Obama for the weak economy - about the same number that expect it to be over by then.

If the economists are right, this is good news for Obama. Nate Silvers from charts the different expectations between economists and voters.

But perhaps most significant figure in the poll was this:

…these attitudes about Obama have helped fuel a big jump in the percentage of Americans who believe the U.S. is headed in the right direction, according to the poll. In January’s NBC/Journal poll, 26 percent said the country was on the right track; now 41 percent think that.

Will this Democratic honeymoon last?

Although American generally viewed the GOP negatively, the Republican message seems to be rubbing off.

The top three concerns about Obama's stimulus were that it contains too much pork-barrel spending, that its tax cuts are too small and that the spending is focused in the wrong areas.

What's more, 61 percent say they're more concerned that the federal government will spend too much money and will increase the size of the deficit, than they are concerned that the government will spend too little money in trying to get out of the recession.

In fact, while Obama’s approval rating has been consistently hovering between 60-70%, his disapproval rating has been growing steadily.

From Gallup Daily:

And the figures from the Real Clear Politics poll averages seem to confirm this trend.

As long as the old Reaganite arguments work, the GOP will continue to use them - even if it means appearing partisan in the short term. After all, once public opinion shifts on economic policies (to “doesn’t stimulus mean big government?”) the political environment could be dangerous for Democrats.

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