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Economic fears threaten Democrats

By STEVE HOLLAND
July 28, 2010

(Reuters)

Americans by a large majority believe President Barack Obama has not focused enough on job creation, as economic fears threaten Democrats ahead of November 2 congressional elections, a Reuters-Ipsos poll found on Tuesday.

In a sign of trouble ahead for the Democrats, the poll found evidence of a sizable enthusiasm gap with Republicans more energized about voting in the elections.

Americans expressed deep unhappiness with the direction of the economy, which in the poll they identified overwhelmingly as the country’s top problem.

The U.S. unemployment rate is at a stubbornly high 9.5 percent and Obama has spent much of the year on issues like Wall Street reform and healthcare in addition to jobs.

People were more negative about Obama’s performance on the economy than on any other question surveyed. Satisfaction was dropping more sharply on the issue than on any other question.

Only 34 percent approved of Obama’s handling of the economy and jobs compared to 46 percent who deemed it unsatisfactory. This is a sharp decline from early 2009, shortly after he took office, when more than half of those surveyed approved of Obama’s handling of the worst financial crisis in decades.

Overall, the July 22-25 national poll of 1,075 adults gave Obama an approval rating of 48 percent, a small decline from a June survey that had him at 50 percent approval.

This is in line with other polls showing his approval rating under 50 percent and evidence that for all the country’s problems, Obama remains generally well-liked.

“People still feel insecure about their future,” said Ipsos pollster Cliff Young. “They are spending less and saving more. They’re not buying a larger house or car or other luxuries because they’re worried — and that worry also manifests itself on the political side.”

U.S. presidents often lose support in midterm elections.

The Republicans are hoping to win control of the House of Representatives in November and pick up seats in the Senate. That could prevent Obama from winning any more major successes in Congress in the second half of this term.

‘COMMON GROUND’

Obama pushed the Senate on Tuesday to pass legislation intended to benefit small businesses and generate jobs.

“I hope that in the coming days, we’ll once again find common ground and get this legislation passed. We shouldn’t let America’s small businesses be held hostage to partisan politics and certainly not at this critical time,” Obama said.

The poll provided evidence that Americans are unhappy that Obama and the Democrats chose to devote their energies to overhauling the U.S. healthcare system and financial regulations instead of dwelling exclusively on job creation.

It found that 67 percent of poll respondents said Obama has not focused enough on job creation compared to healthcare and regulation of banks. Obama has argued that those reforms are vital building blocks to a strong economic recovery.

“They think he should’ve focused much more on the economy rather than healthcare and financial regulation,” said pollster Young. “From a voter perspective, they don’t see the economy improving. They don’t think the administration has given due attention to that problem.”

The Reuters-Ipsos poll was dismal news for Democrats as they seek to hold off Republicans in November elections in which Americans will elect 435 members of the House of Representatives and 37 of the 100-seat U.S. Senate.

Republicans hold a 46-44 percent lead over Democrats when participants were asked which party they planned to support in November. And 72 percent of Republicans said they are certain to vote on November 2, compared to 49 percent of Democrats.

“Republicans are charged up because they think they have a chance,” Young said.

The economy is still recovering too slowly to improve Obama’s political fortunes. U.S. consumer confidence sank in July to its lowest since February.

Figures to be released on Friday are likely to show that growth in the U.S. economy slowed in the second quarter amid a cooling in consumer spending and a wider trade deficit — but they will mark four straight quarters of expansion.

INDEPENDENT VOTERS

Not all was dire for Obama as 52 percent of independent voters approved of his job performance. Independents are closely watched because they often make the difference in close elections.

Obama, when accused by Republicans of driving up government spending and debt with an $862 billion stimulus plan, has made the point that he inherited a $1.3 trillion U.S. budget deficit from his unpopular predecessor, Republican George W. Bush.

But the poll suggested there are limits to this argument. It said 70 percent of Americans think the deficit has increased under Obama, and 75 percent said it grew under Bush.

Although U.S. troops are on their way out of Iraq, only 34 percent approved of Obama’s handling of the Iraq war, down from 51 percent early in his term.

With casualties rising in Afghanistan, 33 percent approved of Obama’s handling of the Afghan war, down from 47 percent shortly after he took office.

More Americans approved than disapproved of Obama’s efforts toward energy independence, 39 percent to 32 percent. But, again, the approval rating is down from the 56 percent approval he received on this subject in February 2009.

This comes as Obama grapples with BP Plc’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill and pushes the need for more clean-energy jobs.

The poll had a margin of error of 3 percentage points. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish and the data weighted to ensure that the sample’s composition reflected that of the actual U.S. population according to U.S. Census figures.

Copyright © 2010 Reuters

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7 Responses to Economic fears threaten Democrats

  1. woody188

    July 28, 2010 at 2:51 pm

    Polls will be polls. Truth is people don’t like Republicans or Democrats but no poll (or election typically, for that matter) ever seems to have the option of none of the above.

    • woody188

      July 28, 2010 at 2:53 pm

      The other truth is the economy won’t improve without drastic changes in foreign trade. But we all know Washington won’t allow that to occur as we sell ourselves to China piecemeal.

      • woody188

        July 28, 2010 at 3:28 pm

        Small businesses don’t need more debt. Keyensian debt is part of the problem, not the solution.

        Level the playing field by banning the import of slave labor goods. Why should Wal-mart prosper on the backs of Chinese migrants and at the expense of Main Street Mom and Pop stores?

        Ban the off-shoring of jobs by “American” companies. If they sell a percentage of goods into the US market, they must employ that same percentage of their workforce inside the USA.

        Take back the ability to regulate the currency from private bankers. Every cent you pay in taxes goes towards debt service to the Federal Reserve. It does not pay for schools, roads, military, or anything. It all goes to pay the Federal Reserve it’s pound of flesh in debt.

        Revoke/reduce the number of H-1B VISA workers. Why are there over 60,000 of these created every year even during the Great Recession (Depression)?

        Revoke corporate money as a form of free speech. It is graft, it is bribery, it is wrong and it dilutes the voice of the populace in favor of the very rich minority.

        Remove the status of person-hood from corporations. Corporations exist solely to earn a profit. They are not moral or ethical. They serve no God. They are not people and do not deserve the same rights as man. This was not always the case, but it is the case today in the market of “greed is good” where ethics and social responsibility are concepts no longer in practice.

        These are the things that will right this nation and restore the job market. These are the things the establishment will not allow to occur. We will continue the downward spiral until we are brave enough to force these to occur.

  2. AustinRanter - AKA Gregg

    July 28, 2010 at 8:11 pm

    With the now near 13 Trillion in the National Debt…hmmmm, I’d say that amount would easily maintain every need that every man, woman, and child in the US would require for a lifetime. You know, housing, food, transportation, vacations, etc. Maybe several generations, actually.

  3. woody188

    July 28, 2010 at 11:55 pm

    We can argue all we like about the practicality of regular citizens making national policy, but one thing can’t be disputed: If regular citizens had been running the show, they never would have abandoned our manufacturing base. They never would have agreed to enrich international oligarchies at the expense of the American economy.

    Taking the greatest manufacturing power in the history of the world and dismantling it—relegating it to the role of industrial “spectator”—is something that working people would never allow to happen. Never. Only the U.S. Congress would see the wisdom in pissing away something that took 150 years to build.

    Read the whole article here: Taft-Hartley Revisited

    • Almandine

      July 29, 2010 at 11:19 pm

      Tell it to the stockholders of GM and Chrysler. You know… those with retirement accounts full of their now-worthless stock – compliments of the govt. They don’t even have the benefit of a bankruptcy-driven asset fire-sale by which to get 10, 20, or 30 cents on the dollar back on their investments. Taxpayers (the govt) now own those shares and the stockholders who invested in those companies get screwed. Even IF and when they emerge successful, the original stockholders have no claim.

      Clearly, the everyday Joe would not outsource his job. BUT, the problem with having regular citizens make business decisions for the manufacturing base is that they have no skin in the game. They have no capital investment in the company… they have no need to worry about return on such investment. They work… they get paid. End of story.

      Unfortunately, the greatest manufacturing power in history has moved away because of the costs of doing business here… relative to those costs elsewhere. Whatever role govt had was to drive those costs upward… regulation, taxes, you name it.

      Should working people wish to step in and form other businesses of their own, reinstate the manufacturing base on their own, reap the profits on their own… I say go for it.

      What’s stopping them ?

  4. Bogofree

    August 2, 2010 at 8:16 am

    I have a friend who owns a business of under 100 employees. He has said his biggest competitor is the government. Half his time is spent attempting to decipher the latest mandate for the local, state and federal officials that are often conflicting and have no relevancy to his business – yet he must report and even pay fees that serve no purpose other than fund an agency or agencies. All too often he must deal with “officials” who have never even been in the private sector or run a business yet seem to have – all too often – a built in adversarial relationship with his operation.