Politics & Government

Polls find Californians optimistic about Obama

The Dow is down more than half. California's unemployment rate has climbed above 10 percent. Furlough seems to be the word of the day.

Yet California voters are more optimistic about the direction of the country than eight months ago. And so far, they seem willing to put their trust in President Barack Obama.

In the past three years, the percentage of Californians who believed the country was seriously on the wrong track climbed from fewer than half of voters in January 2004, to three-fourths by last July.

Yet despite the Golden State's worsening woes, attitudes are now changing.

According to a new state Field Poll, 42 percent of California voters believe the country is headed in the right direction – a 27 percentage-point jump from July.

Meanwhile, two-thirds of voters approve of the job Obama is doing to date.

"They're taking in the message of hope and change," said California Field Poll Director Mark DiCamillo. "There are very few people who think things are going well. But in a time of severe economic downturn, the outlook of Californians has improved.

"A lot of it has to do with this pent-up desire to replace President Bush. Now there's a new leader at the helm, and people feel better about it."

Obama's California approval rating of 65 percent is the highest for any early-term president since April 1981 when voters favored fellow Californian Ronald Reagan by 74 percent. Democrat John F. Kennedy was the highest rated, at 76 percent approval, in February 1961.

Some 62 percent of California voters approve of Obama's handling of the economy. Meanwhile, by 52 percent to 36 percent, voters support the $787 billion stimulus package that Obama backed and Congress approved.

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