Personal Popularity as Political Capital.

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According to an NYT/CBS poll,  66 percent of Americans approve of the job the president is doing.

These sometimes turbulent weeks — marked by new initiatives by Mr. Obama, attacks by Republicans and more than a few missteps by the White House — do not appear to have hurt the president. Americans said they approved of Mr. Obama’s handling of the economy, foreign policy, Iraq and Afghanistan; fully two-thirds said they approved of his overall job performance.

By contrast, just 31 percent of respondents said they had a favorable view of the Republican Party, the lowest in the 25 years the question has been asked in New York Times/CBS News polls.

It is not unusual for new presidents to enjoy a period of public support. Still, the durability of Mr. Obama’s support contrasts with that of some of his predecessors at the same point in their terms. It is also striking at a time when anxiety has gripped households across the country and Mr. Obama has alternately sought to rally Americans’ spirits and warn against economic collapse as he seeks Congressional support for his programs.

The poll found that 70 percent of respondents were very or somewhat concerned that someone in their household would be out of work and looking for a job in the next 12 months. Forty percent said they had cut spending on luxuries, and 10 percent said they had cut back on necessities; 31 percent said they had cut both.

For all that, the number of people who said they thought the country was headed in the right direction jumped from 15 percent in mid-January, just before Mr. Obama took office, to 39 percent today, while the number who said it was headed in the wrong direction dropped to 53 percent from 79 percent. That is the highest percentage of Americans who said the country was headed in the right direction since 42 percent said so in February 2005, the second month of President George W. Bush’s second term.

“It’s psychology more than anything else,” Arthur Gilman, a Republican from Ridgewood, N.J., said in a follow-up interview to the poll. “President Obama has turned around the negative feeling in this country. He’s given everything an impetus because he’s very upbeat, like Roosevelt was. It’s too soon to tell if the spending stuff works, but some things have improved.”

The survey also found Obama’s oft-repeated Obama mantra (“I inherited this crisis”) has a lot of traction: 33 percent said the Bush administration was responsible for the current economic downturn, 21 percent blamed Congress, and only 2 percent think the Obama administration is at fault.

One thought on “Personal Popularity as Political Capital.

  1. Big Word April 11, 2009 at 10:40 am Reply

    Obama’s a very likeable guy, no doubt. Plus he’s coming in after an atrocity of a Presidency and with no ongoing personal scandals. He’s damn near untouchable.

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