WASHINGTON – There is scant public support for President Bush's $700 billion federal rescue plan for the U.S. financial industry and little expectation it would solve the crisis that has roiled the markets and hobbled some of the country's largest investment firms, according to a poll released Friday.
Just 30 percent of Americans say they support Bush's package, according to an Associated Press-Knowledge Networks poll released as White House and congressional leaders struggled to rescue the plan after House Republicans rebelled against it. Despite the president's pleas that the package is urgently needed to prevent an economic meltdown, 45 percent say they oppose Bush's proposal while 25 percent said they are undecided.
Underscoring the hesitancy members of Congress have shown to approve the plan quickly, opposition was solid across party lines. Fewer than four in 10 Republicans, three in 10 Democrats and one in 10 independents said they support the package.
Fifty-seven percent said they think the bailout is needed to prevent a serious recession. Even so, only 35 percent said they think the plan would resolve the financial crisis, with doubters in the majority in both parties and among independents.
The poll found a standoff over which presidential candidate would do better handling the financial crisis, with about a third opting for John McCain and about the same number preferring Barack Obama.
The survey also showed overwhelming support for holding Friday night's first debate between the two presidential candidates as scheduled.
McCain had said he would not attend until lawmakers had acted to address the financial crisis, but he said Friday morning he would attend. Obama said all along the debate should be held.
Sixty percent said the debate should be held and 22 percent preferred that it be postponed, with the rest undecided.
The AP-Knowledge Networks poll was conducted Sept. 25 and involved online interviews with 671 adults. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.
The poll was conducted over the Internet by Knowledge Networks, which initially contacted people using traditional telephone polling methods and followed with online interviews. People chosen for the study who had no Internet access were given it for free.
Polls conducted on only one night can sometimes be less reliable than surveys conducted over several nights because they only include the views of people who were available that particular evening.