What Pollsters Say About Obama and His Economic Stimulus Plans

Americans support the president-elect, while the GOP has credibility problems on economic issues.

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Some good news for Barack Obama: Most Americans still strongly support him and give overwhelming backing to his emerging economic package. The latest national poll by Democracy Corps finds that "even amid a deepening recession, Barack Obama will enter the White House facing an American public hopeful that he can bring about the change on which he campaigned and which Americans desperately yearn for. Obama's strong standing has not yielded an inch since his election, as he enjoys a better than 2-to-1 favorable-unfavorable ratio, and 40 per cent view him very favorably while 57 per cent approve of the job he is doing as president-elect, while just 19 per cent disapprove."

The Democracy Corps survey, released this morning and conducted December 16-18, found that voters back Obama's economic plan by a 63-to-22 percent margin. The pollsters add, however, that the new administration needs to be careful to put job creation at the top of its agenda. "Job creation clearly stands at the center of voters' priorities, but they view small businesses as a key to creating those jobs," the pollsters say. "Finally, Obama must show accountability and a real effort to cut waste if he wants the room to achieve an investment agenda."

Meanwhile, another pollster points to problems for the GOP. "Most notably," pollster Cornell Belcher says in a memo prepared for the Democratic National Committee, "Republicans have lost almost all credibility on economic issues, with Democrats maintaining a double-digit advantage over Republicans on the federal budget deficit (+22), dealing with the economic crisis (+18), Social Security (+18), and energy issues (+14). This advantage on dealing with the economic crisis was critical [in the 2008 election], given the dominance of this issue over all others. In short, voters trust Democrats to deal with what is important right now, getting the economy back on track and doing so in a way that ensures ordinary people realize the benefits of the economic recovery."

But all is not lost for the GOP. Belcher concedes that Republicans still hold an edge over Democrats on keeping America safe (+8) and on preserving national security (+15). And voters still view the Democrats as more likely to raise their taxes (+10). Voters are divided on values issues. "Among voters who said 'moral values' were very important to their decision [in voting last November], 34 per cent self-ID as Democrats, tied with the 35 per cent who ID Republican," Belcher said. "This is an enormous change from four years ago, when Republicans led in party ID among values voters by 18 points (42 to 24 per cent)."