Obama's popularity declines in California, according to poll

The Sacramento BeeMarch 19, 2010 

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama's popularity is declining in California, with slightly more than half of the state's voters still approving of his job performance, according to a Field Poll released today.

The poll found 52 percent of Californians giving Obama good marks, down from 56 percent in January and 65 percent a year ago.

At the same time, Californians gave a resounding thumbs-down to Congress, with only 12 percent of the state's voters approving of its performance. That's the lowest assessment since Field began tracking Congress two decades ago.

"There's never been a time when voters were more repulsed by the Congress than now," said Mark DiCamillo, the poll's director.

The poll found a huge partisan gap in perceptions of Obama, with 74 percent of Democrats approving of the president, compared with 17 percent of Republicans.

Voters were evenly divided over how they thought Obama has handled his signature issue of health care, with 45 percent approving and 45 percent disapproving. That's higher than in January, when 39 percent of Californians approved of the president's handling of health care.

Four of every five Californians – or 80 percent – said they disapprove of how Congress has handled health care.

"They're doing what they think is right, but I don't think they're listening to the people they represent," said Barbara Polson, 60, a retired administrative officer from Red Bluff who participated in the poll. "I don't like what the Democrats are doing.

"They're trying to ram down something that goes against the people. … This is horrible."

DiCamillo said California voters "have recoiled" in response to what they perceive as intransigence among state and national lawmakers.

Congress, he said, is now "in the same category of how voters in California have been viewing the state Legislature for the past six months, (and) it's now spread to Washington."

"And for the same general reasons: They don't see their leaders on both sides of the aisle working together. There's no attempt to hammer out compromises on major pieces of legislation."

DiCamillo said the poor ratings for Congress are hurting incumbents such as Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, who faces re-election this year. "She's part of it – and people who are incumbents are going to feel a certain amount of voters' wrath," DiCamillo said.

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