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Posted by on Feb 3, 2009 in Economy, Politics | 5 comments

Poll: Stimulus Supported Amid Growing Partisanship And Desire For Changes

A new Gallup poll finds that President Barack Obama’s stimulus package enjoys strong support — but Americans are rapidly returning to their traditional (and predictable) partisan positions and want the plan to be changed…bigtime.

And a new Rasmussen Reports poll finds that support for the plan is slipping. The reason: the plan is starting to lose independent voter support.

Gallup reports:

A strong majority of Americans (75%) want Congress to pass some version of President Obama’s economic stimulus plan, but this group is split down the middle on whether it should be passed as is or with major changes.

Naturally, support for the plan is highly partisan. Although few Republicans favor passing the plan as it is, more than 4 out of 10 say it should be passed with major changes, leaving only a minority of 35% of Republicans who say the plan should be rejected altogether. A majority of Democrats, on the other hand, say Obama’s plan should be passed as is. Independents mirror the attitudes of the nation as a whole, split down the middle about passing it as is or with major changes.

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Meanwhile, optimism about the plan’s impact is not high:

Regardless of their attitudes about the stimulus plan, Americans remain significantly concerned that the plan would not stimulate the U.S. economy quickly enough…Moreover, Americans have fairly low expectations for the plan’s ability to turn around the economy. Just 17% say the plan would make the economy a lot better, while another 47% say it would make the economy a little better. Seventeen percent (including more than a third of Republicans) go so far as to say the plan would make the economy worse.

Rasmussen has this:

Public support for the economic recovery plan crafted by President Obama and congressional Democrats has slipped a bit over the past week. At the same time, expectations that the plan will quickly become law have increased.

Forty-two percent (42%) of the nation’s likely voters now support the president’s plan, roughly one-third of which is tax cuts with the rest new government spending. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that 39% are opposed to it and 19% are undecided. Liberal voters overwhelmingly support the plan while conservatives are strongly opposed.

Last week, support for the President’s plan was at 45% and opposition at 34%.

As they consider the size and scope of the $800-billion-plus economic recovery plan, 46% are worried that the government will end up doing too much while 42% worry that it will do too little (see trends).

And what has caused the shift?

According to Rasmussen, Republicans and Democrats aren’t changing their viewpoints much. They are seemingly locked in with their perceptions (which probably also have to do with each wanting “their side” to “win” since increasingly American politics boils down to the equivilent of a football game or wrestling match, versus the search to sit down and solve problems and put party labels aside).

The problem for Obama and the Democrats: they are losing the undecided voters:

However, support among unaffiliated voters has fallen. A week ago, unaffiliateds were evenly divided on the plan, with 37% in favor and 36% opposed. Now, 50% of unaffiliated voters oppose the plan while only 27% favor it.

Obama and the Democrats got in by decent margins due to getting a big chunk of independent voters. They’re losing them on this issue.

Why? Some will say it’s due to the plan’s flaws and say it’s packed with items that don’t fit a common sense definition of things that can immediately give a boost to the economy. Some will put the blame (or give the credit to) the line put out by Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, that was picked up by GOP lawmakers. Some will say it’s due to the Democrats failing to get any Republicans to vote for it. Some will say GOPers wanted to do a solid no to hit the partisan hot button. Some will say Democrats wanted the GOPers to vote in a solid “no” to brand them as obstructionist.

And some will say that despite Obama’s communication skills and images of him meeting with Republicans that he needed to directly use the bully pulpit more than he has — that for all the campaign flash and charisma he is turning out to be one low key dude.

The danger to all: polls are snapshots in time.

If the stimulus fails in a Senate vote Wall Street could tumble some more — something that doesn’t happen due to the result of any political struggle that resembles football game or a wrestling match. So both sides and the White House have a stake in coming up with an agreement that both parties can live with and that a large number of Americans will trust and support.

The bottom line: the GOPers have made headway with their arguments, as Rasmussen shows:

While support for the plan has slipped, support for a recovery plan that includes only tax cuts – like the one proposed by House Republicans – has grown during the past week. Forty-three percent (43%) of voters support that approach while 39% are opposed. Though the topline numbers are virtually the same as support for the president’s plan, the partisan demographics are distinctly different. Republicans solidly support a tax-cutting recovery plan while Democrats are solidly opposed. Forty-eight percent (48%) of unaffiliated voters like the idea while 33% do not.

Voters continue to soundly reject a recovery plan that includes only new government spending without any tax cuts. Just 15% support such a plan while 70% are opposed. Survey data released yesterday showed most voters believe that tax cuts are always better than government spending. Other recent polling shows that 59% are concerned that government spending will increase too much.

This sagging support, Andrew Malcolm notes, is why Obama is about to embark on a media blitz that will include a TV appearance tonight.

FOOTNOTE: Polls may differ. People often pick the one that best supports their position. But the constant is: the present plan doesn’t have overwhelming support and needs to be altered.

Blog reaction is HERE.

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