Did Obama tackle too much? Poll finds divided views

McClatchy NewspapersFebruary 2, 2010 

WASHINGTON — Americans hold mixed views of President Barack Obama's first year in office, with 41 percent saying that he tried to do too much, 35 percent concluding that he did about the right amount and 19 percent saying that he didn't do enough, according to a new McClatchy-Ipsos poll.

Of those who think he did too much, 57 percent singled out health care as the main area in which he over-reached. Of those who said he did too little, 42 percent cited the economy and jobs as the areas where he most under-performed.

Still, Obama's approval rating dipped only slightly, to 50 percent, from 52 percent 18 days earlier, while Congress' approval rating plummeted to 21 percent, down from 29 percent. In addition, the proportion of Americans who think that the country is headed down the wrong track ticked up to 57 percent, from 55 percent.

Since Obama took office there's been a debate over whether he's trying to do too much too soon, but the president makes no apologies for his ambitious agenda.

"I've been told that our political system is too gridlocked, and that we should just put things on hold for a while," Obama said last week in his State of the Union address. "For those who make these claims, I have one simple question: How long should we wait? How long should America put its future on hold?"

Broken down by party, 67 percent of Republicans, 45 percent of Democrats and 41 percent of independent voters said that the president had tried to do too much on health care. More people oppose the health care plans that are before Congress — 51 percent — than favor them — 37 percent.

Slightly more — 49 percent — favor creating a public entity to compete with private health insurers than the 47 percent who oppose that proposal. A majority _52 percent — favor creating insurance co-operatives that aren't run by the government, while 38 percent oppose that idea.

On whether Obama did too little on jobs and the economy, 48 percent of independents, 43 percent of Republicans and 37 percent of Democrats put themselves in that camp.

The president is emphasizing jobs and the economy far more than health care these days.

"Jobs will be our number one focus in 2010, and we're going to start where most new jobs do: with small businesses," Obama said Tuesday during a visit to Nashua, N.H. "This proposal takes the money that was repaid by Wall Street banks to provide capital for community banks on Main Street. Together with our proposal to cut taxes for small businesses to spur hiring and increase wages, we are making the critical investments we need for our economic recovery."

Most Americans are still waiting for the economy to rebound. Only 10 percent said the economy had turned the corner, while 57 percent said it had stabilized but hadn't yet begun to improve. Twenty-eight percent said the worst was yet to come.

METHODOLOGY:

The McClatchy-Ipsos poll was conducted Thursday through Sunday with a nationally representative, randomly selected sample of 1,127 people 18 and older. The overall margin of error is plus or minus 2.92 percentage points.

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