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Poll: Economy Brings Down Obama's Job Approval Rating


As the lagging economy continues to weigh on people's minds, the American public is more disapproving than ever of President Obama's job performance, the latest CBS News/New York Times poll finds.

Mr. Obama's job approval rating stands at 46 percent, matching his previous low from early January. As many as 45 percent of Americans disapprove of the job he is doing – his highest disapproval rating to date. More than anything, Americans are critical of how Mr. Obama is handling domestic issues like the economy.

Still, the president is more often viewed as representing and understanding Americans' interests more than either Congress or Republicans are.

Most Americans, 57 percent, say Mr. Obama is more interested in serving the American people rather than interest groups, while 35 percent say the opposite is true. By contrast, just 13 percent of Americans think Congress is more interested in serving the people they represent over special interests.

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More Americans approve than disapprove of the job Mr. Obama is doing handling terrorism (55 percent) and foreign policy (47 percent), but the president scores poorly on domestic issues. More than half of Americans disapprove of how he is handling the economy, health care reform and the federal budget deficit.

More than half of Americans think Mr. Obama has accomplished about what they expected him to in his first year in office, but the percentage who say he has accomplished less than expected has grown to 37 percent -- an 11-point increase from just last month.

And in terms of changing the way things are done in Washington -– a promise Mr. Obama campaigned on -– half think he has not made much progress, including one in five who say he has not made any progress at all.

While Americans are split on whether they approve of how the president is doing his job, slightly more people still have a favorable opinion of him, at 39 percent to 34 percent.

President Obama and the Economy

The president has clearly slipped in public estimation in the last few months when it comes to economic issues – which Americans name as the most important problem facing the country. Fifty-two percent of Americans disapprove of the president's handling of the economy. Additionally, 58 percent disapprove of Mr. Obama's handling of the budget deficit, up 15 points from July.

Most Americans do not think the president has a clear plan for creating jobs. While 39 percent say he does, 56 percent say he does not.

Most Democrats still approve of Mr. Obama on these measures and think he has a clear plan for creating jobs, while most Republicans and independents do not.

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Views of the economy remain pessimistic; 83 percent of Americans think it is in bad shape, and less than a quarter sees improvement on the horizon. In fact, seven in 10 Americans expect the effects of the recession to last another two years or more.

Nearly half of all Americans (48 percent) think Mr. Obama has spent too much time on health care, and more than half (52 percent) think he has spent too little time on the economy.

Optimism about an economic rebound was high when Mr. Obama first took office, but that optimism has declined significantly over the past year. Forty-seven percent think the economy will be better by the time the president's term is up, down from 75 percent in January, 2009.

The President's Economic Policies

During his State of the Union address, Mr. Obama talked about his economic policies designed to improve the economy and create jobs. Americans are divided about the effectiveness of his stimulus package, and are split as to whether the government should spend money to create jobs –- and for most Americans, jobs are the priority.

Even as the administration credits the stimulus package with creating or saving as many as 2 million jobs, just 6 percent of Americans think it has created jobs. Another 41 percent expect it will do so. However, 48 percent think it won't. These views have not changed much in recent months, but optimism about the impact of the stimulus package was much higher last summer.

The public has long been concerned about federal budget deficits, and Americans divide as to whether the government should spend money to create jobs given the current deficit's size. While 47 percent say the federal government should spend money to create jobs, even if it means increasing the budget deficit, 45 percent say the government should not spend money to create jobs and should instead reduce the deficit.

At the same time, fewer than half are willing to decrease spending in areas such as health care or education, or decrease military spending, in order to lower the deficit.

The president has proposed taxing the country's largest banks and financial institutions. Most Americans (56 percent) haven't yet heard enough about this proposal to have an opinion, but among those who have, nearly twice as many approve (28 percent) as disapprove of it (15 percent).

Additionally, 56 percent think regulations on the banking industry should be increased to prevent financial crises from happening again. Just 36 percent think regulations should not be increased because that will slow economic growth.

This poll was conducted among a random sample of 1,084 adults nationwide, interviewed by telephone February 5-10, 2010. Phone numbers were dialed from random digit dial samples of both standard land-line and cell phones. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus three percentage points. The error for subgroups is higher.

This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

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