WASHINGTON — Americans are growing slightly more optimistic about the path the country is on, according to a new Ipsos-McClatchy poll.
Some 46 percent of Americans said the country was headed in the right direction, while 48 percent said it was on the wrong track, according to the survey of 1,005 adults taken last Thursday through Monday.
In a similar survey taken July 9-13, only 40 percent said the nation was headed in the right direction, and 54 percent said it was on the wrong track.
The improving public mood coincides with a stock-market rebound and increasing evidence that the economy is poised for a comeback. The new survey also found that 56 percent think that the economy has stabilized, up from 49 percent earlier in July.
In addition, the poll indicates that President Barack Obama's job-approval rating has leveled out after suffering some erosion earlier in the summer, with 58 percent now saying that they approve of his job performance and 37 percent disapproving, virtually the same as in the previous survey but still down from the mid-60s ratings he had through the spring.
Obama has seen a recent decline in public support on two key issues: health care and the war in Afghanistan. On health care, only 44 percent of Americans approve of his performance now, down from 50 percent in April. Public support for his handling of Afghanistan is lower as well, with only 45 percent voicing approval, down from 51 percent in April.
A Quinnipiac University poll released Tuesday underscored the problems that Obama faces on health care. Fifty-two percent of Americans disapproved of his handling of health care in the Quinnipiac survey, while only 39 percent approved.
Moreover, 59 percent of Americans said that Congress shouldn't pass a health care bill if only Democrats supported it.
"President Barack Obama and Democratic leaders in Congress appear to be losing the public relations war over their plan to revamp the nation's health care system," said Peter Brown, an assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "Americans are more willing to scrap a health care overhaul than they are to increase the deficit in order to produce such legislation. That's a bad omen for the White House and congressional leadership as they try to sell their plan to the country this month before the vote counting gets serious on Capitol Hill in September."
The Ipsos-McClatchy Poll was taken last Thursday through Monday with 1,005 people 18 and older who were randomly selected nationwide. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.09 percentage points.
The Quinnipiac University Poll was conducted from July 27 through Monday with a nationwide sample of 2,409 registered voters. Its margin of error is plus or minus 2 percentage points.
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