Most Americans see little benefit from the federal government's economic stimulus plan, as President Obama's job performance rating drops overall, and hits a new low among Democrats.
A Fox News poll released Thursday finds that 43 percent of voters approve of the job Obama's doing, matching a previous low in early April. Two weeks ago 47 percent approved, and a year ago 54 percent of voters approved. His highest approval thus far was 65 percent in January 2009.
Some 48 percent of voters disapprove today, which also matches a previous high negative rating.
The president's rating has been hurt by declines not only among independents, but also among his party faithful. The poll finds 76 percent of Democrats approve, which is the lowest positive rating he's received among this group. Two weeks ago 84 percent of Democrats approved. Obama's highest approval rating among Democrats was 93 percent a year ago May.
Among independents, 40 percent approve today, down from a high of 66 percent in June 2009.
Obama's average approval rating among Democrats was 87 percent in 2009 and is 81 percent in 2010. For independents, the president's average approval in 2009 was 53 percent, while for the current year it's an average of 41 percent.
Some 13 percent of Republicans approve of Obama's job performance. That's about where it has been for the last year, though it is down from a high of 37 percent at the start of his term.
Overall, the president's average rating for his term is 52 percent approval and 40 percent disapproval.
The national telephone poll was conducted for Fox News by Opinion Dynamics Corp. among 900 registered voters from July 13 to July 14. For the total sample, the poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
While President Obama's job rating is in negative territory, voters think he has had a more difficult job than former President George W. Bush had in the beginning of his term.
By a two-to-one margin, more voters think President Obama (60 percent) has had a tougher job than former President George W. Bush (29 percent) had when comparing the first year and a half of each presidency. The 9/11 terrorist attacks occurred eight months into the Bush presidency.
Economic Stimulus — Congress Should Have Done Nothing
More than 6 in 10 American voters think the economy would be in the same or better shape if Congress hadn't passed the economic stimulus bill, while a small minority thinks things would be worse without it.
If Congress had done nothing, the largest number of voters — 43 percent — say the economy would be in about the same shape as it is today. Another 22 percent think the economy would be in better shape without the stimulus plan. About a third — 31 percent — thinks the stimulus bill helped and the nation's economy would be in worse shape without it.
Wednesday the White House said the $862 billion stimulus bill was responsible for saving or creating between 2.5 and 3.6 million jobs.
The poll finds about a third of voters think the economic stimulus plan created "a lot" (5 percent) or "some" new jobs (29 percent). Twenty-three percent think the plan created "a few" jobs, while the biggest portion of voters — 40 percent — thinks the stimulus created "hardly any new jobs at all."
What would voters do with the billions of dollars of stimulus money that remains unspent? Thirty-two percent would spend it on a small business program to create jobs, 28 percent would not spend it and use the money to reduce the deficit, while 20 percent would give it back to taxpayers in the form of tax cuts and 12 percent would use it to pay down the country's debt to China.
More voters think Republican policies (41 percent) than Democratic policies (30 percent) are responsible for the current condition of the economy. Some 21 percent say both.
In a July 9 economic speech in Missouri, Obama said, "It's a choice between the policies that got us in this mess in the first place and the policies that are getting us out of this mess."
Voters are uncertain who can do that. Even though voters blame Republican policies for the current economic conditions, when asked which party's policies are more likely to "improve the condition of the country," views are closely divided: 40 percent say Republican policies and 37 percent say Democratic policies.
Other highlights from the poll:
— By 64-27 percent, voters think the Bush tax cuts should be extended rather than allowed to expire, as they are set to do this year.
— Most voters think the stock market will be at about the same level (47 percent) or higher (32 percent) a year from now. Few — 13 percent — think it will be lower.
— Similarly, 30 percent think home values will be up next year and another 49 percent think they will be about the same as they are now. About one in five (18 percent) think housing prices will be lower.
— Some 40 percent of voters approve and 51 percent disapprove of how the Obama administration is dealing with the oil spill. A month ago 38 percent approved and 51 percent disapproved (June 8-9).
— Views are closely divided on whether there should be a temporary ban on deepwater drilling in the Gulf: 50 percent think it is a good idea, while nearly as many — 45 percent — think it's a bad idea.