The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

February 21, 2013

Poll: Obama rated at three-year high, Republicans at bottom

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama enters the latest budget showdown with Congress with his highest job- approval rating in three years and public support for his economic message, while his Republican opponents' popularity stands at a record low.

Fifty-five percent of Americans approve of Obama's performance in office, his strongest level of support since September 2009, according to a Bloomberg National poll conducted Feb. 15-18. Only 35 percent of the country has a favorable view of the Republican Party, the lowest rating in a survey that began in September 2009. The party's brand slipped six percentage points in the last six months, the poll shows.

Americans by 49 percent to 44 percent believe Obama's proposals for government spending on infrastructure, education and alternative energy are more likely to create jobs than Republican calls to cut spending and taxes to build business confidence and spur employment.

"The Republicans are not offering any new solutions," said poll respondent Cynthia Synos, 62, a political independent who lives in the St. Louis suburb of Greendale, Mo. "Their answer is always tax cuts and incentives for business. I've never heard them say anything innovative to spark the economy that would help the other 85, 90 percent of people that have to deal with the economy as it is."

The findings come as Congress and the White House are trying to reach an agreement to stop $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts in federal spending during the next nine years beginning March 1. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the measures would reduce economic growth by 0.6 percent this year, enough to eliminate 750,000 jobs.

Obama's positive standing with the public provides him with political leverage as Americans assess blame for any furloughs, disruption of government services or damage to the economy if the spending cuts aren't averted. The repercussions also could help shape the battleground for the 2014 midterm congressional elections.

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