Fox News Poll: Balanced Budget Amendment Favored, Obama's Stimulus Panned

American voters overwhelmingly believe the economy stinks, and there’s little belief that the stimulus plan was effective. In addition, most voters favor a balanced budget amendment -- except if it means program cuts or new taxes.

These are just some of the findings from a Fox News poll released Thursday.

Click here for full poll results.

Almost all voters -- fully 94 percent -- have a negative view of economic conditions today.

Some 59 percent give the economy the lowest rating of “poor.” While that’s worse than the 49 percent who thought so a year ago (June 2010), it is an improvement from 74 percent calling conditions “poor” the week before President Obama took office (January 2009).

Meanwhile, less than a third think the stimulus plan has helped the economy (29 percent).

Just over half of Democrats (51 percent) think the stimulus has helped. That’s ten times the number of Republicans who think so (5 percent). Republicans (52 percent) and independents (56 percent) are most likely to say the stimulus didn’t make a difference, while over half of Tea Partiers (54 percent) say it hurt the economy.

Both higher-income and lower-income households alike are more inclined to say the stimulus didn’t make a difference.

But can we tell if the stimulus worked yet? Views are sharply divided over whether President Obama has had enough time in office to see benefits from his economic policies: 47 percent of voters think two-and-a-half years is enough time to see whether the policies are working, while 49 percent think it’s too soon to say.

Debt Limit

Should the country’s debt limit only be raised if the budget plan includes tax hikes? Nearly half of voters (48 percent) say no, the debt ceiling should only be raised if there are significant spending cuts, but no taxes increases.

Almost as many (41 percent) think there should be both spending cuts as well as new taxes.

Most Republicans say the debt limit should only be raised if there are cuts, but no new taxes. Views among Democrats and independents are more mixed, though lean toward requiring both spending cuts and tax increases.

Golf Summits

The debt limit negotiations might have been a topic of conversation when President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) played golf with Vice President Joe Biden and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, on June 18.

Do beer summits and rounds of golf with political rivals actually help? Many voters -- 42 percent -- say yes, they truly help leaders get along better during negotiations. Still, a 54 percent majority remains unconvinced these informal activities make a difference in tough partisan battles.

Fifty-one percent of Democrats say these kinds of summits truly help, while 65 percent of Republicans and 53 percent of independents are skeptical.

Obama has played golf more than 30 times during the last year. Most voters -- 59 percent -- are okay with that. Thirty-five percent say that’s too much time for a president to be on the links.

Balanced Budget Amendment

By 72-20 percent, most voters favor a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Or at least in theory they do. Sentiment is reversed if balancing the budget meant “major spending cuts” to entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security (31 percent favor and 63 percent oppose). Likewise, a 62-percent majority opposes the amendment if it meant “major taxes increases.”

By a 20-percentage point margin, Republicans are more likely than Democrats to favor a balanced budget amendment.

Among Democrats, 62 percent favor a balanced budget amendment in general, while the opposite is true if it required cuts to entitlements -- then 79 percent would oppose it.

For Republicans, on the whole 82 percent favor the amendment. When it includes program cuts GOP views are split: 47 percent still favor the amendment and 46 percent oppose it.

Voters are evenly split over which is better -- taxes on the wealthy to help the less well-off or lower taxes to encourage investments (45 percent each).

By a 47-43 percent margin, slightly more voters think the country is moving from capitalism and more toward socialism. A year ago 56 percent said there was a move to socialism (July 2010).

The Fox News poll is based on landline and cell phone interviews with 912 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide and was conducted under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R) from June 26 to June 28. For the total sample, it has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.