While many of President Obama’s critics in Washington express doubt that he’s serious about cutting the deficit, a Fox News poll released Thursday found that American voters think he is more committed than anyone else in town.
Just over half of voters -- 51 percent -- think the president is “truly serious about reducing the budget deficit.” That’s more than think Republicans in Congress (42 percent) or Democrats in Congress (38 percent) are.
Moreover, there are skeptics among the party faithful. Roughly one in three Democratic voters thinks their own party’s lawmakers are not serious (32 percent). About the same number of Republican voters thinks Congressional Republicans aren’t serious about reducing the deficit (35 percent).
Nearly all voters are concerned about government spending, including 38 percent who are “extremely” and 49 percent who are “very” concerned.
Views are mixed on the current Congressional approaches for dealing with the debt ceiling and spending cuts. Some 37 percent of voters agree with how Democrats would handle the problem. More voters though agree with how Republicans (25 percent) or Tea Party supporters in Congress (18 percent) would handle the budget issues.
Thirty-one percent of Republican voters say they prefer the Tea Party approach over the Congressional Republican approach.
Overall, 49 percent of voters approve of President Obama’s job performance and 44 percent disapprove. That’s little changed from last month when 51 percent approved and 43 percent disapproved (February 7-9, 2011).
Approval of the president is double that of Congress, as 24 percent approve and 65 percent disapprove of the job Congress is doing.
Majorities of independents (61 percent), Democrats (63 percent) and Republicans (70 percent) disapprove of Congress. That increases to 75 percent disapproval among those who consider themselves part of the Tea Party movement.
While overall approval of Congress is down from 31 percent last month, it’s still higher than the high teens and low twenties ratings it had been garnering over the last year.
Meanwhile, by a 52-43 percent margin American voters think Obama is a strong and decisive leader.
The number saying the president is a strong leader is down 8 points from 60 percent who thought so in October 2009, the last time the question was asked.
For Democrats, 78 percent think President Obama is a strong leader, down 9 points from 87 percent in 2009.
A 55-percent majority of independents thinks Obama is a strong leader, while 74 percent of Republicans disagree.
What should the White House do about gas prices? Nearly half of voters -- 47 percent -- are “extremely concerned” about gas prices, and most think the best course for the Obama administration is to bring prices down by increasing drilling (40 percent) or opening the strategic oil reserves (27 percent). Some 16 percent would rather leave prices high to encourage alternative fuels and conservation, and another 10 percent says do nothing and let the market set prices.
Given the high concern about gas prices, Americans should be thankful that cell phones aren’t powered by gasoline. The poll found that 70 percent of voters think Americans are more addicted to their cell phones. That’s nearly four times as many as the 18 percent who think Americans are more addicted to their cars. Some 9 percent say both.
The Fox News poll is based on landline and cell phone interviews with 913 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide and was conducted under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R) from March 14 to March 16. For the total sample, it has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.