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FOX News Poll: Obama Believes in Bigger Government

Majorities of Americans think President Barack Obama is meeting, if not exceeding, expectations, and keeping his campaign promises. In addition, despite Obama's claim that he doesn't believe in bigger government, a new poll shows there is widespread belief among Americans that he does.

President Obama's job approval rating stands at 63 percent, with 26 percent saying they disapprove, according to the FOX News poll released Thursday. Partisanship is clear in how people rate the president's performance, as a whopping 92 percent of Democrats say they approve — more than three times as many as the 30 percent of Republicans who give Obama the thumbs up. Among independents, 61 percent approve.

Just over half of Americans — 52 percent — think so far Obama is meeting expectations and 14 percent say he is actually exceeding expectations. These sentiments are almost identical to those from the beginning of the year (13-14 Jan 2009), however there is a shift in perceptions that Obama is not performing up to par.

The number of people who think Obama is falling below expectations has doubled from 11 percent in January to 23 percent today. Almost all of the change comes from people moving from saying it is "too soon to tell" to saying Obama is not meeting expectations.

A large 90 percent majority of Democrats think Obama is meeting or exceeding expectations, up from 82 percent (13-14 January 2009).

All in all, 58 percent think Obama is keeping the promises he made during the campaign — more than twice the number who say he is drifting off course (28 percent).

Opinion Dynamics Corp. conducted the national telephone poll of 900 registered voters for FOX News from March 3 to March 4. The poll has a 3-point error margin.

In Obama's formal speech to a joint session of Congress in February he said he doesn't believe in bigger government. Americans think he believes differently. Most people — 77 percent — think Obama believes in bigger government that provides more services.

It isn't just Republicans who hold the view that Obama is a big government supporter, although almost all of them do (85 percent). Some 76 percent of Democrats think Obama believes in bigger government, as do 70 percent of independents.

How do Americans feel about the role of government? A 56 percent majority thinks the federal government is too big today. And by a 20 percentage point margin — 55 percent to 35 percent — the poll finds Americans would rather pay lower taxes and have a smaller government rather than pay higher taxes for larger government.

Even so, more people lean toward saying the nation's economy needs the economic policies of Obama (49 percent) right now rather than the economic policies of Ronald Reagan (40 percent).

More than half believe (55 percent) the stimulus and Obama's new budget plan are truly intended to fix the nation's economy, while 30 percent think the real intention is to push the Democratic Party's agenda.

If the economy improves in the next two years, slightly more people think the government will deserve credit than think the private sector will deserve the kudos (40 percent and 35 percent respectively).

Obama has had a busy start to his presidency and has been in the news and on television every day since taking office — sometimes multiple times a day. Is he getting overexposed? Not for most people: 25 percent would like to see Obama on television more often and 33 percent say as often as he is now. Just over a third (36 percent) would like to see less of Obama.

On the topic of news, 55 percent think the constant focus on the economy and "gloom and doom" talk is actually making the economy worse. And while many (58 percent) think the Obama administration is giving an accurate portrayal of the economic crisis, some 23 percent think the administration is portraying the crisis as worse than it really is and 16 percent say not as bad as it really is.

Making the Rich Pay More Taxes — What is Rich Anyway?

For 12 percent of Americans, their family would have to make over a million dollars a year to consider themselves rich. Nearly half of Americans (45 percent), however, agree with Obama's definition and think making more than $250,000 dollars a year is rich.

Many also agree with Obama's spread the wealth philosophy, or do they? Fifty-five percent think it is a good idea to tax the wealthiest Americans more because it levels the economic and social playing field; however 72 percent agree with the old adage "you cannot make the rich poor by making the poor rich."

Furthermore, by a 66 percent to 30 percent margin, most people support raising taxes on households earning over $250,000 dollars a year and lowering taxes for most other households.

Still, three times as many people think raising taxes in an economic downturn is a bad idea (69 percent) as say it is a good idea (23 percent). Majorities of Democrats (58 percent), Republicans (86 percent) and independents (66 percent) agree on this issue.

Views are evenly divided on the characteristics of rich people: 36 percent think rich people are generous people who create jobs and give to charity, and an identical number think they are greedy people who only look out for themselves. Another 25 percent say it depends.

Where does the government get its money anyway? While 65 percent understand the government's money is their taxpayer dollars at work, some 24 percent think the federal government has "plenty of its own money without using taxpayer dollars."

Click here to view the raw data (pdf).