WASHINGTON — Nearly seven in ten Americans approve of the way President Barack Obama is doing his job, giving him enormous political capital as he pushes Congress to give him unprecedented tools to fight economic crisis, according to a new McClatchy-Ipsos poll.
Obama outpolls Congress by more than 30 points, and he also can point to an uptick in the number of people who think the country's headed in the right direction even as a majority thinks the worst is yet to come in the economy.
The survey found that 69 percent of Americans approve of Obama's performance — with a robust 38 percent "strongly" approving.
At the same time, 26 percent disapprove of the way he's doing his job, with 12 percent "strongly" disapproving.
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Notably, the solid approval was recorded Feb. 6-9, after Obama admitted that he "screwed up" in the ill-fated nomination of former Sen. Tom Daschle to be Health and Human Services secretary. Daschle withdrew under a torrent of criticism for tax problems. The survey of 1,042 adults has an error margin of plus or minus 3.04 percentage points; a subset of 841 registered voters has an error margin of plus or minus 3.38 percent points.
The poll underscores the most potent weapon Obama has as he presses Congress not only to approve a proposed $789.5 billion plan to stimulate the economy, but also perhaps to approve hundreds of billions of dollars more to shore up the nation's banking system.
Americans are by no means convinced, however, that Obama has yet solved perilous problems in banking or any other part of the economy.
A majority — 54 percent — think that the worst is yet to come in the economy. Another 35 percent think the situation has stabilized but not yet started to improve. Just 7 percent think the economy has turned the corner.
Still, the survey found a slight improvement in the general mood of the country since Obama took office three weeks ago.
More than four out of ten — 42 percent — of Americans think the country's headed in the right direction, up from 32 percent in December and double the 21 percent in October, before the presidential election.
At the same time, 50 percent still think the country's on the wrong track, down from 59 percent in early December, and from 73 percent in October.
Obama is far more popular than Congress, which is controlled by his own party.
The poll found 37 percent approving of the way Congress is doing its job; just 8 percent "strongly" approve. Conversely, 59 percent disapprove; 28 percent disapprove strongly.
Not surprisingly, the economy tops the nation's to-do list. Nearly four out five — 76 percent — called the economy the nation's top issue. Another 11 percent listed other domestic issues such as education as their top concern. And 7 percent listed foreign affairs such as war as their top issue.
These are some of the findings of a McClatchy-Ipsos poll conducted February 6-9. For the survey, a nationally representative, randomly selected sample of 1,042 adults aged 18 and older across the U.S. was interviewed. With a sample of this size, the results are considered accurate within 3.04 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what they would've been had the entire U.S. adult population been polled. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to, coverage error and measurement error. These data were weighted to ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the actual U.S. population according to Census figures. Respondents had the option to be interviewed in English or Spanish.
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