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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Poll Numbers Show A Drop In Support For Obama's Agenda

While on a personal level Barack Obama's approval ratings and popularity have only dropped a few points, when specific issues are brought up, the downward turn should concern him.

Two polls find this to be true, the New York Times/CBS News poll and the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

Reuters, linked above:

President Barack Obama faces growing concerns among voters over government spending, the auto industry bailout and other economic policies, according to two opinion polls released on Wednesday.

Obama, who took office in January, remains popular with Americans, although his overall job approval rating slipped to 56 percent, down 5 points from April, according to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

But 58 percent of respondents said Obama and Congress should focus on keeping the budget deficit down, even if takes longer for the economy to recover. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the federal deficit could top $1.8 trillion this fiscal year -- by far a record.

Nearly 70 percent said they had concerns about federal intervention in the economy, including Obama's decision to take an ownership stake in General Motors and the prospect of more government involvement in healthcare. Obama has made healthcare reform a top priority of his administration.

WSJ reports on some of the specific issue questions.

Auto Industry:

Nearly seven in 10 survey respondents said they had concerns about federal interventions into the economy, including Mr. Obama's decision to take an ownership stake in General Motors Corp., limits on executive compensation and the prospect of more government involvement in health care. The negative feeling toward the GM rescue was reflected elsewhere in the survey as well.

A solid majority -- 58% -- said that the president and Congress should focus on keeping the budget deficit down, even if takes longer for the economy to recover.

has good news and bad news mixed in:

On health care, the public remains open to persuasion. Without being told anything specific about the Obama plan in the survey, about a third of people said it's a good idea, about a third said it's a bad idea and the rest had no opinion. When given several details of his approach, 55% said they favored it, versus 35% who were opposed.

There was also support for the Democratic push to let people sign up for a public health-care plan that would compete with private companies, one of the toughest issues in the health-care debate. Three in four people said a public plan is extremely or quite important. But when told the arguments for and against the plan, a smaller portion, 47%, agreed with arguments in support of the plan, with 42% agreeing with the arguments against it.

At the same time, nearly half the participants said it was very or somewhat likely that their employer would drop private coverage if a public plan were available.

The New York Times/CBS News poll addresses Guantanamo Bay:

Beyond these issues, which Mr. Obama has sought to avoid becoming entangled in, he faces a divided public as he works to carry out his executive order to close the prison for terrorism suspects at Guantánamo Bay. The poll found that 8 in 10 expressed worry that detainees released to other countries might be involved in future attacks here.

Half of the poll respondents said closing the prison would have no effect on protecting the nation from terror threats, but 3 in 10 said they thought it would make the United States less safe. Many of the detainees being held at the prison have not been charged, and nearly 7 in 10 people surveyed said they would support charging them or releasing them back to the country of their capture. Just 24 percent said the detainees should continue to be held without charge for as long as the government deems necessary.

One last thing about that NYT link, noticed and mentioned by The American Thinker.

It is not unusual for a newspaper to change a headline on a story from edition to edition. This is true especially if the story has been updated or changed to reflect additional information.

But this New York Times story on the poll they took regarding Obama's handling of the economy is remarkable for the change in headlines from just a few hours ago to now.

When I saw the story this morning on Memeorandum, the headline of a story about a New York Times poll read:

"In Poll, Obama seen as ineffective on the economy."

What does the headline read now?

"Obama poll sees doubt on budget and health care"

While popularity is one thing, Obama is failing to win public support for his massive spending plans and his agenda and is instead losing support on specific issues.

Peter D. Hart, a Democratic pollster who conducted the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll/survey with Republican Bill McInturff, put it exactly right when he said "The public is really moving from evaluating him as a charismatic and charming leader to his specific handling of the challenges facing the country."

Now that Americans are evaluating Obama on his policies rather than his personality, they are finding him wanting.