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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

New National Journal Poll: Public Divided on Obama, Down on GOP

Greg Sargent’s Plum Line flags a new National Journal poll addressing “an epic argument over the core question of whether the Federal government can act at a time of severe national crisis to bring Americans relief from serious economic suffering.”
The poll indicates that “public attitudes on this question are in serious flux — which only raises the stakes for this showdown.” Sargent continues:

…The poll finds that the percentage of those who say that “government is not the solution to our economic problems; government is the problem” has edged up to 40 percent. That bolsters the widely made claim that skepticism about government’s ability to act to create jobs is perilously high for Democrats.
At the same time, though, a total of 56 percent wants government to play an active role in the economy. The rub is that 29 percent of those are not sure whether government can be effective in this regard, even if they want to see it try, anyway. Meanwhile, 27 percent do have confidence in government’s ability to regulate the marketplace. That’s unquestionably low — but there’s a sizable bloc out there (the 29 percent) that wants to be persuaded of government’s efficacy.

Sargent also makes it clear that, although President Obama gets blamed by nearly half of respondents for a “record deficit while failing to slow job loss,” there isn’t much for the GOP to cheer about in the poll, which was conducted 9/28-10/2.

…While the 40 percent who trust Obama to solve our economic problems is low, an even more abysmal 33 percent trust Congressional Republicans….42 percent say his policies are starting to move things in the right direction, and 11 percent say we’re significantly better off because of them, for a total of 53 percent — versus only 41 percent who buy the conservative argument that he’s made things worse….Also: Very solid majorities believe the Dem argument that a combination of Bush’s economic policies, and risky loans and investments by banks and investment firms, caused the crisis.

As Sargent concludes, “Public attitudes are very much up for grabs, adding to the urgency of winning this argument.”

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