Published February 07, 2013
President Barack Obama will be speaking to a gloomy electorate when he delivers his State of the Union address on Tuesday.
Twice as many voters believe the country is weaker, rather than stronger, since Obama took office. In addition, by a 52-40 percent margin voters think the worst is yet to come on the economy. And more than eight in 10 disagree with the president’s notion that the government doesn’t have a spending problem.
These are some of the findings from the latest Fox News poll released Thursday.
During recent budget negotiations, Obama reportedly said he doesn’t believe the government has a spending problem. Most voters -- 83 percent -- disagree. That includes most Republicans (97 percent), independents (87 percent) and Democrats (69 percent).
In addition, out of 13 issues tested, more voters are “extremely” concerned about government spending than any other issue. Moreover, nearly all voters are either extremely (32 percent) or very concerned (52 percent) about spending.
Nearly half of voters -- 48 percent -- think the country is weaker and less powerful today than it was five years ago. That’s twice as many as the 24 percent who see the country as stronger and more powerful. Another 27 percent think it’s unchanged.
Those saying the country is weaker include 78 percent of Republicans, 49 percent of independents and 21 percent of Democrats.
Voters continue to be troubled over the direction of the economy. While 40 percent think the worst is over, more than half -- 52 percent -- think the worst is yet to come. That’s little changed from a year ago when 42 percent said the worst is over and 48 percent said yet to come (Feb. 2012). Still, it is a marked improvement from early in Obama’s first term when 27 percent felt the worst was over (April 2009).
Pessimism is also seen in other areas of the poll. For example, by a wide 60-34 percent margin voters say the government’s $800 billion dollar stimulus plan didn’t work. Over half of Democrats think the stimulus worked (55 percent), while majorities of Republicans (87 percent) and independents (58 percent) say it didn’t.
Opposition to another round of stimulus runs two-to-one, perhaps because most voters think cutting government spending (73 percent) would be more likely to help strengthen the nation’s economy than increasing spending (15 percent).
To varying degrees, majorities of Republicans (91 percent), independents (76 percent) and Democrats (55 percent) agree that cutting government spending is the way to help the economy.
Meanwhile, a 58-percent majority thinks the federal government has become “too powerful” and is restricting American freedoms. Thirty-eight percent are comfortable with the role of the government right now.
Voters are feeling a tax crunch as well. While 43 percent think Obama told the truth during the fiscal-cliff negotiations about not raising taxes on middle-class Americans, 49 percent say he didn’t -- including 20 percent of Democrats.
Furthermore, six in 10 voters (61 percent) say their paycheck is smaller this year because more taxes are being taken out, and 68 percent think taxes will go up on middle-class Americans this year.
One clear area of optimism: 65 percent think it is still possible to achieve the American Dream. While that’s mostly unchanged from 64 percent in 2010, it is down from a high of 72 percent in 1997. There’s widespread agreement, as men (69 percent), women (62 percent), whites (61 percent), blacks (80 percent), voters under 45 years (68 percent), voters ages 45+ (63 percent), high-income (68 percent) and lower-income voters (63 percent) -- all believe in the American Dream.
Overall, approval of Obama’s job performance stands at 49 percent, up from 47 percent in January. The last time his approval was above 50 percent was late October 2012 (51 percent), and before that it hit 55 percent in May 2011 after U.S. forces killed Usama bin Laden. Forty-five percent of voters disapprove of the job Obama is doing.
Likewise, 49 percent approve and 42 percent disapprove of the job Joe Biden is doing as vice president.
Ratings for both Obama and Biden are far out-paced by Hillary Clinton’s 64 percent approval rating. Some 29 percent disapprove of the job she did as secretary of state.
Voters were also asked to rate Obama’s job performance on several issues.
By 55-42 percent, more voters disapprove than approve of the job Obama’s doing on the economy. Views are similarly negative on his handling of job creation (52 percent disapprove and 43 percent approve) and taxes (54 percent disapprove and 41 percent approve).
The president’s best issue is terrorism: 59 percent approve and 36 percent disapprove. On Afghanistan 48 percent approve and 42 percent disapprove. Some 47 percent approve and 46 percent disapprove of Obama on immigration, which is the highest approval he’s received to-date on this issue.
Obama’s worst issue is the federal deficit: 33 percent approve and 61 percent disapprove.
Still, even the president’s worst rating is better than Congress’s job rating. Overall, 17 percent of voters give lawmakers on Capitol Hill a thumbs-up, while 77 percent disapprove.
On Monday the president signed into law a measure that will withhold paychecks for Senators and Representatives until their respective Houses pass a budget. While 54 percent of voters think this is just a “gimmick” that won’t really do anything, some 40 percent say it’s a “serious effort” that could motivate lawmakers to pass a budget.
The Fox News poll is based on landline and cell phone interviews with 1,010 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide and was conducted under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R) from February 4 to February 6. The full poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.