Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Obama's numbers slipping; Americans waking up

A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll of 1,008 adults, conducted from Friday to Monday finds that President Barack Obama’s personal popularity is slipping, as Americans see real problems that have overshadowed Mr. Obama’s slick persona.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Democratic pollster Peter D. Hart, who conducted the survey with Republican Bill McINturff, commented that "the public is really moving from evaluating him as a charismatic and charming leader to his specific handling of the challenges facing the country," and that from now on Mr. Obama and his team "are going to have to navigate in pretty choppy waters."

Among those issues about which people are increasingly concerned are government spending, the bailout of auto companies, and a majority also disapprove of the decision to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Better than six in ten respondents said they had concerns about federal interventions into the economy, such as the auto bailout and the healthcare system.

While a large majority concedes Mr. Obama inherited a budget deficit from George Bush, a solid 58 percent majority says the president and Congress should work to keep the deficit down, rather than quadruple it, as the President’s spending spree would do. The Democrats headlong rush to reform a healthcare system that satisfies 70 percent of Americans is not so important to them. Twenty-four percent of those questioned identified the deficit and the most important economic issue, while only 11 percent mentioned healthcare.

While still high, Mr. Obama's job approval rating has dropped five points since April, from 61 percent to 56 percent, and independents now see the President as only 50 percent positive, down from about a 60-30 margin a couple of months ago.

The President’s comments about the lack of enthusiasm for healthcare reform and his energy policy may belie some frustration on his part. "I suppose we could just stand pat and not do anything on either of those fronts...That's been tried for four or five decades. And in both energy and health care, the problems have gotten worse, not better," he said. But more than one in three respondents believe the President is trying to do too much, and perhaps they realize that so much of the problems in both energy and healthcare are government induced.

Mr. Obama’s attempt to take advantage of an economic crisis and enact the most liberal set of proposals in the nation’s history may be running out of steam. As the American people shake themselves out of the state of shock they were in over the economy, they are increasingly realizing what the Democrats were trying to put over on them, and are shifting blame for the continuing economic problems to President Obama and the Congress.

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