Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Latest poll sends mixed messages

The results of a recent poll conducted by The Washington Post & ABC News were released yesterday. The results definitely sent some mixed messages while confirming other things as well. The problem I have found with polls is that regardless of the credibility; if you look hard enough you will find another poll with conflicting results. I have been guilty of that in the past. I was given poll results from Rasmussen, a credible source, and refuted them with results from a PEW poll. Since PEW polls have long been considered biased; my argument was a poor one. I digress. My point is that I advise you to view these results with a grain of salt.

Many of these findings indicate a favorable view of President Obama to date. The problem is that the bar wasn’t set very high to begin with. As an example: Though the percentage of Americans who feel we are on the right path to economic recovery has tripled since December of 2008; that rate is only 42%. The percentage of people who felt we were on the right course at the end of Bush’s term was a pitiful 15%. I am fairly confident that my local bartender could have improved on that rate. Another example would be that only 25% of the public blame the present administration for the current economic crisis. This is undoubtedly justified considering the problems in the banking, insurance, and auto industries were firmly established prior to his taking office. While I remain vehemently opposed to some of the President’s tactics; I have never considered him to be responsible for their failures. Approximately 70% of those polled blame excessive consumer spending (credit debt) and the Bush administration’s absence of regulation and oversight as being the main causes of this economic collapse.

The presence of partisanship is glaring in this poll. The percentage of Republicans who feel that the economy is continuing to erode is double that of the Democrats (thank you Sen. Gregg). They are also much quicker to place the blame on President Obama for his lack of action. To be fair; the Republicans were equally critical of the Bush administration for their lack of regulatory measures. There has been a sharp rise in optimism from both Democrats and Independents while the Republican level has remained constant.

President Obama’s approval rating continues to be favorable. Close to 66% feel that he is doing a good job while 60% approve of his handling of the economy. Last fall, an incredible 90% of Americans felt we were nowhere near economic recovery. That figure has dropped to less than 60% which I don’t consider a particularly encouraging rate but it is a drastic improvement. Perhaps the most impressive result for the President is that 64% of Americans still believe in his various plans. However, that number stood at 72% prior to his inauguration. Among Independents and Republicans, the confidence rate has dropped by 13 points regarding his stimulus plan and budget proposal.

While the poll suggests that the public remains somewhat optimistic; it will be interesting to see future results after the President delivers the details of his budget to Congress. Strong resistance is predicted from both parties concerning key elements of the President’s budget. How he fares with Congress will most definitely have a direct effect on the stock market. Evidence of that is the fact that after President Obama described in detail the dire condition of the auto industry; shares in General Motors dropped 25% yesterday. Personally, I am very interested to find out what transpires in Congress and what effect it will have on the market. I guess we’ll just have to wait for the next poll.

For a more concise view of this poll, visit http://washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/polls/postpoll_033109.html?wpisrc=newsletter.

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