Poll: U.S. Concerned But Split On Bailout

While Americans fear that the current financial crisis has far-reaching effects for the nation as a whole, they are split over whether the current bailout plan is the answer, according to a new CBS News poll.

Meanwhile, the approval ratings for both President George W. Bush and Congress have plummeted to historic lows.

Click here to read CBS News' new poll on the presidential race, which shows Obama with a nine-point edge.
Americans overwhelmingly see the financial crisis as hurting everyone, with 92 percent saying it hurts the nation as a whole. Just 39 percent, however, say the bailout would help everyone, while more than half of those surveyed think it would help only Wall Street.

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Americans are cautious about any rush to pass legislation to deal with the economic crisis. Fifty-five percent say they are concerned that Congress will act too quickly, while 40 percent say they are concerned Congress won't act soon enough. More than half say they prefer that Congress take longer than a few days to work out a plan. But desire for Congress to act may be growing: People interviewed in the last two days, after the stock market's drop Monday, were slightly less patient than those interviewed last weekend.

Respondents are split over whether the government, in principle, should provide money to financial institutions. Forty-three percent say it should do so, while the same percentage says it should not. A slightly higher percentage, 60 percent, says the government should provide help to struggling homeowners; 35 percent say it should not. And 53 percent say they believe the bailout bill would be a burden on taxpayers, while just 34 percent said it would stop a collapse of the U.S. economy.

When it comes to the presidential election, neither candidate wins majority approval for their role in this crisis. But more see Barack Obama as having a plan, and he gets better marks than John McCain. Forty four percent approve of Obama's handling of the crisis while 35 percent approve of McCain's.

Obama is more likely to be seen as having a plan for dealing with the crisis, by a margin of 55 percent to 49 percent. But on the broader issue of the economy, neither candidate has gained ground since last week's presidential debate. Obama still holds a relative lead over McCain, with 26 percent very confident in Obama on the economy and 15 percent very confident in McCain. Thirty nine percent say they are not confident in Obama's ability to handle the economy while 50 percent say the same of McCain.

The economy remains the most important issue among registered voters in deciding their vote in November, and it is only becoming more important to them. Now 59 percent of voters name the economy and jobs as their top issue, seven points higher than last week and 19 points higher than in August.

Just 15 percent of Americans approve of the way President Bush is handling the economy, while 78 percent of Americans disapprove. Even a majority of Republicans disapprove of the President's handling of this issue.

Overall, the president's approval rating has dropped five points from last week and is now the lowest of his presidency. Only 22 percent of Americans approve of the job he's doing, while 70 percent of Americans disapprove - a new high.

President Bush's job approval rating has dropped 68 points from its all time high of 90 percent back in October, 2001. It now matches Harry Truman's previous all-time low, recorded by Gallup in February 1952. The 70 percent disapproval rating is higher than any measured since Gallup began asking about presidential job approval in 1938.

The job approval for Congress is even lower. Only 15 percent of Americans approve of the way Congress is handling its job - the lowest figure recorded since CBS started asking the question in 1977. Seventy two percent disapprove.

Only about one in four Americans approve of how either the president or Congress is handling the current financial crisis. And Americans are more pessimistic than ever about the state of the economy. Eighty nine percent say the economy is either fairly or very bad while just 10 percent say it is somewhat good, the lowest such percentage ever recorded by CBS News. Zero percent say the economy is very good.

And 76 percent of Americans think the economy is getting worse - the highest percentage ever. Only 2 percent think the economy is getting better, while one in five thinks it is staying the same.
This poll was conducted among a random sample of 1257 adults nationwide, including 1113 registered voters, interviewed by telephone September 27-30, 2008. 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.