Most Americans are unhappy with the actions the federal government has taken with General Motors, and people are uncertain about GM's future -- even with the government's help, according to a FOX News poll released Thursday.
Considering economic conditions overall, most people say things haven't been this bad since the Great Depression. Views are split, however, over whether the economy is getting better or worse.
President Barack Obama continues to enjoy high job approval ratings -- 62 percent of Americans approve and 31 percent disapprove. Last month 60 percent approved and 30 percent disapproved (May 12-13, 2009). Obama's average approval since taking office is 61 percent.
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For Vice President Joe Biden, 49 percent approve of his job performance, 32 percent disapprove and 19 percent are unsure.
By 58 percent to 38 percent voters across the country say they disapprove of the government takeover and majority ownership stake in General Motors. Majorities of Republicans (79 percent) and independents (59 percent) think it was a bad move, as well as a sizable minority of Democrats (39 percent).
And by an 8 percentage point margin slightly more Americans think the government should have let the market decide GM's fate (52 percent) than believe it was in the country's best interest to save the car maker (44 percent).
A majority of Democrats (62 percent) support the government intervening in GM, while majorities of Republicans (72 percent) and independents (54 percent) back letting market forces decide.
Does the government takeover mean GM will get back on track? When asked to look five years down the road, about half of Americans think the company will be profitable (22 percent) or breaking even (32 percent). Others are more pessimistic, including about one in five (21 percent) who think GM will be out of business, and 17 percent think it will still be losing money.
Among Democrats, who are more likely to support the government takeover, nearly a third think GM will either be gone (15 percent) or still showing red ink (13 percent).
While Obama said the government won't be running GM, the poll suggests Americans think it might not be such a bad idea. Nearly half (46 percent) think the government should "make recommendations" about key management decisions. Another 16 percent would go even further and have the government make key decisions and tell the auto executives what to do. The remaining one third (35 percent) say stay out and let the auto executives run the company.
Opinion Dynamics Corp. conducted the national telephone poll of 900 registered voters for FOX News from June 9 to June 10. The poll has a 3-point error margin.
Labor unions have been front and center in the government's rescue of GM -- and Chrysler as well. The largest number of Americans -- 43 percent -- think labor unions have too much influence on the Obama administration, 29 percent say the right amount and 12 percent too little influence.
The public is split on how things are going today, as about equal numbers say the economy is getting better (40 percent) as say it is getting worse (42 percent). Even this question reveals a partisan divide: Half of Democrats (50 percent) say things are getting better -- that's almost double the number of Republicans (27 percent) who feel the same way. A 57 percent majority of Republicans say things are getting worse. Independents split: 41 percent better and 41 percent worse.
Similarly, when asked if the government stimulus spending is working, 46 percent of Americans say yes, while almost as many people -- 39 percent -- say no. Three months ago sentiments were reversed, as 38 percent thought government actions were working and 44 percent disagreed (3-4 March 2009).
Nearly two-thirds of Americans (65 percent) think the country is in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.
Do the tough times make you more appreciative for what you have? You bet -- 84 percent say they feel more grateful these days. Only 9 percent are "angry" they don't have as much as they used to have.
More Have Positive Views of the IRS Than Pelosi, Cheney and GM
The president is well liked. A 64 percent majority of voters have a favorable opinion of Obama as a person, significantly higher than the 29 percent who have a positive view of House Speaker House Nancy Pelosi and the 34 percent who view former Vice President Dick Cheney positively.
Moreover, with a 49 percent favorable rating the Internal Revenue Service is more popular than Pelosi and Cheney.
Among the car companies tested, Ford -- which has not taken government bailout money -- has the highest favorable rating at 72 percent, followed by Honda at 69 percent favorable. Just under half of Americans have a positive view of General Motors (48 percent) and Chrysler (46 percent).
Kicking the Habit at the White House
The president has been trying to quit smoking but admitted he fell off the wagon a few times during the campaign. What about now? Thirty-seven percent think he is still sneaking cigarettes at the White House, while 30 percent think Obama has truly kicked the habit. Some 33 percent are unsure.