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June 17, 2009

WSJ/NBC News Poll: Obama Slipping; Public Wary of Deficits and Socialistic Interventions

Link at the Rhetorican.

Some findings. Bear in mind, this is a mixed bag, and I'm not highlighting the good news for Obama, which includes general support for his health care takeover (albeit with caveats). I sort of assume that crap, as the public is, what's the word, stupid.

After a fairly smooth opening, President Barack Obama faces new concerns among the American public about the budget deficit and government intervention in the economy as he works to enact ambitious health and energy legislation, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll finds.

These rising doubts threaten to overshadow the president's personal popularity and his agenda, in what may be a new phase of the Obama presidency.

"The public is really moving from evaluating him as a charismatic and charming leader to his specific handling of the challenges facing the country," says Peter D. Hart, a Democratic pollster who conducts the survey with Republican Bill McInturff. Going forward, he says, Mr. Obama and his allies "are going to have to navigate in pretty choppy waters."

...

[T]he poll suggests Mr. Obama faces challenges on multiple fronts, including growing concerns about government spending and the bailout of auto companies. A majority of people also disapprove of his decision to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Omitted there: The public is a bit more optimistic now than they were in past weeks.

I think this whole stat is flawed, or at least misinterpreted. When people are losing money or their jobs, their anxiety is high and so is their pessimism. When people have lost money or their jobs, their anxiety recedes and so too does their pessimism, as they come to grips with "the New Normal."

When people have lost money and their jobs and realize there's no likely way it's coming back, they can actually become more optimistic: Because, seriously, how much further can they fall? It's almost all upside from that point, innit it?

It depends on what one's starting assumptions are. Diminish people's positions and expectations enough and they will begin to become "optimistic" about regaining, say, 85% of what they formerly believed was "normal."

So, anyway, I think that a rise in "optimism" of this sort is both completely predictable -- it's programmed into the human Denial-Rage-Bargaining-Depression-Acceptance stages of dealing with grief -- and it doesn't really say much about Obama per se.

And, on top of that, the economy is going to double-dip so to the extent people become more optimistic, that's actually bad for Obama. The deep recession was a bloody wound, but the second dip will be the heartbreaker, the morale-killer.

I don't say that in a gloating way. I don't want the economy to tank. But Obama acts as if he wants it to, and so it will.

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.

I don't put a lot of stock in the first point -- everyone has "concerns;" concerns don't necessarily translate to votes -- but that second thing seems important.

Mr. Obama's overall job approval and personal ratings have slipped, particularly among independent voters. His job approval rating now stands at 56%, down from 61% in April. Among independents, it dropped from nearly two-to-one approval to closely divided.

!

...

When asked what the most important economic issue facing the country is, 24% cited the deficit, vs. just 11% who named health care.

Mr. Obama has some breathing room. Nearly three in four respondents said that the president inherited the current economic conditions, versus just 14% who said he is responsible for them. Only 6% said the Obama administration is most responsible for the budget deficit. Nearly half blame the Bush administration.

Oh: Actually, all that crap I wrote about "optimism"? It's kind of acknowledged as crap.

On the economy, the poll had some bright spots, with a rising expectation of recovery. The portion of people who think the economy will improve over the next 12 months rose to 46% from 38% in April. And 20% predicted the recession would end in six months to a year, nearly double the comparable figure from April.

Still, overall, the public finds the economy in dreadful shape today, and people living in the Midwest were much less likely to express optimism about the future than those on the coasts.

I can't keep quoting, but I'll pass on the tidbit that while the public supports, they think, Obama's public plan health care proposal, their support drops to almost (but not quite) evenly divided when informed about the arguments against it.


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posted by Ace at 07:14 PM

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