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Poll: Most Say Obama Lacks Clear Plans on the Oil Spill, Energy or Jobs

CBS News Poll analysis by the CBS News Polling Unit: Sarah Dutton, Jennifer De Pinto, Fred Backus and Anthony Salvanto.


Most Americans do not believe President Obama has a clear plan to deal with the oil spill in the Gulf, according to a new CBS News/New York Times poll.

Just 32 percent say Mr. Obama has a clear plan to deal with the oil leak, while 59 percent (including 64 percent of Gulf coast residents) say he does not.

The numbers are not much better among those who watched the president's Oval Office speech on the spill last week, with 35 percent of that group saying he has a clear plan and 56 percent saying he does not.

The spill isn't the only issue on which the president is seen as lacking a plan of action: Just 41 percent say Mr. Obama has a clear plan for developing new sources of energy, while 45 percent say he has no clear plan. And when it comes to creating jobs, just 34 percent say he has a clear plan; 54 percent say he does not.

A majority of Americans - 61 percent - says the president's response to the oil spill was too slow. Just 31 percent say they have "a lot" of confidence in his ability to handle a crisis, though a majority has at least some confidence that he can do so. Since January, the percentage who says Mr. Obama has strong qualities of leadership has fallen from 70 percent to 62 percent.

Overall, 43 percent approve of Mr. Obama's handling of the oil spill, while 47 percent disapprove.

The president's overall approval rating stands at 47 percent, unchanged from one month ago. The percentage who disapproves of his performance has also held steady and now stands at 43 percent.


Cleaning Up and Paying Out:

One in two Americans say they are not very or not at all confident that BP will compensate people affected by the spill. Just ten percent are very confident that the company will do so. Most Americans believe Mr. Obama has at least some control over BP making payments.

Gulf coast residents are slightly more optimistic than Americans overall: 60 percent are at least somewhat confident that the oil giant will compensate those affected by the spill.

While Americans are far more likely to trust the federal government than BP when it comes to cleaning up the spill, two in three believe the Obama administration could be doing more than it is now.

Mistrust of BP runs deep: Just thirty percent say the company's efforts to clean up the spill are making things better. Forty-three percent say they have had no impact, and 17 percent say they have made things worse.

A mere 13 percent of Americans (including 21 percent of Gulf coast residents) approve of BP's handling of the spill. Seventy-nine percent disapprove, and 81 percent believe the company could be doing more to clean up the spill.


Americans are more likely to blame risk-taking by BP than weak or inadequately-enforced federal regulations for the spill. Sixty percent say the company's risk-taking deserves a "great deal" of the blame for the spill, and another 21 percent say BP's risks mean it deserves a "good amount" of the blame.

Forty-one percent place a great deal of the blame on inadequate enforcement of regulations, and 29 percent say weak federal regulations deserve a great deal of blame.

More From The Poll:
Poll: Vast Majority say U.S. Energy Policy Needs Major Changes
Poll: Gulf Coast Residents Angry but Optimistic about Spill
Poll: Most Say Months Before Oil Stops Spewing

Energy, The Economy, and the Angry Gulf Coast:

Fifty-eight percent of Americans say that United States energy policy needs fundamental changes going forward. Thirty-one percent say it should be completely rebuilt. Almost all Americans believe the United States is too dependent on other countries for its supply of oil.

Two in three Americans say the federal government's moratorium on offshore drilling is a good idea, while 30 percent say the moratorium should be lifted because of its impact on the Gulf coast economy. And while 42 percent favor increased offshore drilling, 49 percent oppose it.

Like Americans overall, a majority of Gulf coast residents say they are angry about the oil spill. Fifty-four percent of those in the region say the spill is hurting their community significantly, and 65 percent say they have been affected at least indirectly.


Americans continue to largely see the economy as the most pressing problem facing the country (40 percent say so), though the Gulf spill is now cited second at 13 percent.

Forty-five percent approve of Mr. Obama's handling of the economy, while 48 percent disapprove. About one in two Americans say the economy is currently staying the same; the rest are roughly split on whether it is getting better or worse, with slightly more saying it is getting better.

Read the Complete Poll
This poll was conducted among a random sample of 1,259 adults nationwide, interviewed by telephone June 16-20, 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.

An oversample of residents in coastal counties of Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi was conducted for this poll, for a total of 318 interviews. The results were then weighted in proportion to the adult population. The margin of error for the sample of these Gulf Coast residents is six points.

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

Brian Montopoli

Brian Montopoli is the national reporter and political analyst for

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