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Poll: Public Supports Aid To Homeowners

Americans are making clear distinctions between the Obama Administration's proposals to assist various sectors of the economy, according to a new CBS News poll.

While a majority favors assisting struggling homeowners, most of those polled do not support additional federal assistance for U.S. automakers or for banks and financial institutions.

More than half of Americans are relieved that President Obama's polices might help homeowners avoid foreclosure, but an even higher percentage are resentful of assistance for financial institutions and automakers.

Most do not believe additional assistance for U.S. automakers is necessary. The public is more divided over the necessity of bailing out financial institutions in order to help get the economy out of this recession.

A majority does believe, however, that providing government money to struggling homeowners is necessary to help improve the housing market.

Specifically, when it comes to the government providing financial assistance to homeowners, 71 percent of Americans approve while 25 percent disapprove. Fifty-seven percent say government help to homeowners is necessary and fifty-five percent say they are relieved that homeowners are getting assistance.

On the other side, 36 percent say the housing market would improve without assistance and an identical percentage say that they are resentful of homeowners getting aid.

Americans do not believe that banks and automakers need government assistance. Forty-eight percent thinks banks will recover without it, and 58 percent say the same about the automakers. Forty-eight percent are likewise resentful of the aid to the banks, and 45 percent are resentful of the automaker aid.

Just 37 percent of Americans say they support additional money to the banks, and less than half of that - 18 percent - say they support additional aid to automakers.


Read more on the public's feelings about bailouts to the banks and to the .

Few say the current problems with the nation's banks and car companies are due to economic conditions beyond the banks or automakers' control. Most say that the problems are the result of decisions made by company management.

Americans appear to be more sympathetic to homeowners, but many don't think they are without blame. Forty-two percent blame the homeowners' own financial decisions for the trouble they are having with their mortgages, while 40 percent say the problems are the result of economic conditions outside homeowners' control.

(CBS)

Despite the opposition to bailouts and continuing crises in the economy, the president's overall job approval rating is holding steady at 62 percent. At this point in his first term, George W. Bush's approval rating was 60 percent.

The partisan divide that existed throughout the latter part of George W. Bush's presidency (and the Clinton presidency) is evident now as well. Mr. Obama's approval rating is extremely high among members of his party (90 percent) and is also fairly high (58 percent) among independents, but it is much lower among Republicans, at 23 percent.

On the economy specifically, 56 percent approve of the job Mr. Obama is doing, while 33 disapprove. That is little changed from last month.

Americans continue to believe it will take some time for the Obama Administration to fix the economy. Fifty percent think it will take one or two years to do so, and 60 percent say that they are willing to be patient with the Obama administration and wait that year or two for his economic plans to work. Just 19 percent say they have the patience to wait more than two years.

Just under half of Americans see the president's economic plans as helping their families. One in four think those policies will hurt their families, and another quarter say they won't affect their family one way or another. Those with higher incomes and Republicans are more likely to say his plans will hurt their families.

Other Highlights From The Poll:

  • The percentage saying the nation is heading in the "right direction" continues to climb, though it is still low by historical standards. Today 35 percent say the country is on the right track, the highest that figure has been in over two years. Fifty-seven percent say the country is on the wrong track.
  • Americans continue to express overwhelmingly negative assessments of the economy: nearly nine in ten say the economy is in bad shape. Just 12 percent think the economy is even fairly good.

    But there are signs of hope. While 41 percent of Americans think the economy is getting worse, that's a smaller percentage than said so last month (51 percent). The percentage who thinks it is getting better, while small, has more than doubled -- from 8 percent then to 19 percent now.

  • As Mr. Obama has laid out plans for removing troops from Iraq, his ratings for handling that issue have risen: today 61 percent approve of his handling Iraq, up from 54 percent a few weeks ago. Twenty-three percent disapprove of his handling of Iraq.
  • First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton all have positive net approval ratings. Clinton receives her highest favorable rating ever in this poll, with 58 percent of Americans viewing her favorably, more than did so when she was a presidential candidate or first lady. Michelle Obama is viewed favorably by 53 percent of Americans - also an all-time high. Biden's approval rating stands at 23 percent, with 15 percent saying they disapprove of him and 61 percent saying they don't know or haven't heard enough.
  • Three in 10 approve of the way Congress overall is doing its job while 56 percent disapprove. Generally positive views of Democrats in Congress have not translated into a positive opinion of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. By about two to one, Americans have an unfavorable opinion of Pelosi, though nearly half of all Americans haven't formed an opinion either way. (Read more about what the poll says about views of Congress.)
  • Conservative radio commentator Rush Limbaugh has recently attacked both the Obama Administration and the Republican leadership. Although only one in five Americans has a favorable opinion of Limbaugh, he remains popular with 47 percent of Republicans. (Read more about what the poll says about views of Limbaugh and Republicans)
  • The poll also asked about legislation Congress is considering legislation, commonly referred to as "card check," that would allow people to form a union by publicly signing a card, without a secret ballot vote. Thirty-eight percent favor allowing people to form a union by publicly signing a card without a secret ballot, but more - 45 percent - are opposed.

    Opposition to this legislation may stem from the opinion that unions have too much influence on American life and politics today, a view held by nearly half the public - 47 percent. Eighteen percent think labor unions have too little influence, while about a quarter think they have about the right influence on American life and politics.


Read The Complete Poll (PDF)



This poll was conducted among a random sample of 1142 adults nationwide, interviewed by telephone March 12-16, 2009. Phone numbers were dialed from RDD samples of both standard land-lines 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.