What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls
Saturday, December 11, 2010
President Obama threw a couple curve balls in the last few days when it comes to the economy - closing a deal with congressional Republicans that would continue the Bush tax cuts for all Americans and extending a ban on offshore drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico and along the Eastern seaboard.
While the liberal wing of the president's party in Congress is in open revolt over the tax cut deal, 56% of voters favor the agreement that extends the Bush tax cuts for all Americans for two more years, cuts the Social Security payroll tax rate for one year and renews long-term unemployment benefits for an additional 13 months. Scott Rasmussen discusses the deal and why it's popular with voters in his latest video.
But then it's not just about the tax cuts: A plurality (43%) of Adults think the appropriate role for the government is to provide programs like unemployment insurance to help people through difficult times.
Adding an element of surprise to the deal was the finding just before it was announced that voters are even less confident than they were a month ago that the president can work with the new GOP majority in the House. Voters are also less confident that members of both major parties will be able to work together in Washington.
The drilling ban isn't as popular with voters. Most, in fact, expect that decision to drive up gas prices and hurt the economy.
These days, just 36% of Americans are at least somewhat confident in those who advise the president on economic policy.
Americans remain pessimistic about the chances for economic recovery in the short-term and continue to pin their hopes on a long-term turnaround. Only 36% of Adults believe the U.S. economy will be stronger a year from now.
Although the United States has officially been out of an economic recession for over a year, Americans are even more pessimistic about how long it will take the housing and stock markets to recover. Seventy-one percent (71%) now predict the housing market won't recover for three years or more, while 55% expect it to take three years or more for the stock market to come back.
Largely unchanged since January are views about the country's job market. Forty-three percent (43%) believe that anyone who wants to work in America can find a job, but just as many (44%) disagree.
Though Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has announced plans to commit another $600 billion to the banking system in an effort to jumpstart the economy, most Americans still aren't confident the Fed can control inflation and keep interest rates down.
Speaking of the Fed, Ron Paul, one of Congress' sharpest critics of the Federal Reserve, has been chosen to lead the House subcommittee that monitors the Fed's activities, and he promises to push again for a full audit of the nation's central bank Seventy-four percent (74%) of Americans think an audit of the Fed is a good idea.
The Discover U.S. Spending Monitor offered the one economic bright spot of the week: Consumer confidence in November reached its highest point in three years and saw its biggest month-to-month increase since April as more Americans believe U.S. economic conditions are improving and their personal finances are getting better.
From 2005 to early 2009, entrepreneurs were more confident about the economy than government employees, private sector employees, retirees and other Americans, according to the Rasmussen Consumer Index. However, since March of last year, government workers have been the most confident (or, perhaps, the least pessimistic).
Still, Americans historically have always worked to make sure their children were better off than they were, but the number who believe today's youth will be better off than their parents has fallen to its lowest level ever. Only 17% of Adults think today's children will be better off than their parents.
Despite official Washington's increasing fixation on the federal budget deficit, most voters think cutting federal spending is a bigger priority.
One spending measure incoming congressional Republicans have in their sights is the new national health care law. Most voters continue to support repeal of that law and believe it will increase both health care costs and the deficit.
Another big ticket budget item that will be under close scrutiny is military spending, much of which goes these days to the war in Afghanistan. Following President Obama's surprise visit to Afghanistan last week, many Americans question what the military goals are in that war and think history will not look kindly on U.S. efforts there.
Voter confidence in the outcome of the war in Afghanistan has fallen to a new low.
The number of voters who believe the terrorists are winning the War on Terror is also at its highest level in over three years. Thirty-seven percent (37%) think the United States and its allies are winning the War on Terror, but nearly as many (32%) say the terrorists are winning.
The president sent shock waves through his own party with the tax cut deal, but voters continue to have mixed feelings about his leadership style. Twenty-eight percent (28%) view the president's leadership as too confrontational, while 30% say he's too cooperative. Another 31% say his leadership style is about right.
At week's end, 46% of voters approved of the president's job performance in the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll, while 53% disapproved.