While most voters think President Obama hasn’t made the economy his “singular focus” as he’s declared for over a year, many are less anxious about the country’s economic situation.
A Fox News poll released Thursday also shows that while about half of voters think the “worst is over” (48 percent), the same number -- 48 percent -- think the “worst is yet to come.”
Overall, feelings on the economy have gotten more positive. The 48 percent who feel optimistic is up from a year ago when 37 percent said the worst was behind us (February 2010), and constitutes a major increase from two years ago when 29 percent thought so (January 2009).
Obama has avowed several times over the past year that the economy will be his singular focus -- by a large margin Americans do not think this has been the case. Some 27 percent agree he has truly made the economy his focus, while 69 percent disagree.
Meanwhile, 50 percent of voters think the Obama administration has created new jobs. That includes 21 percent who think the administration has mainly created private sector jobs, 14 percent mainly government jobs and 15 percent who say both.
Some 43 percent think the administration has failed to create any new jobs.
Voters are skeptical about the president’s ability to invest and save at the same time. Some 32 percent think President Obama will be able to both reduce the deficit and pay for the programs set forth in his State of the Union Address. Yet nearly twice as many -- 61 percent -- doubt both can be accomplished.
Approval of the president is up, with 51 percent of voters saying they approve and 43 percent disapproving of the job Obama is doing. Last month 47 percent approved and 44 percent disapproved of his job performance (January 18-19, 2011).
If Sec. of State Hillary Clinton were president, 26 percent of voters think she would be doing a better job than President Obama, while 17 percent think she would be doing worse.
Just over half -- 51 percent -- think Clinton's job performance would be the same as Obama's.
Among voters who say they backed Obama in the 2008 election, 20 percent think Clinton would be doing a better job, 16 percent say worse and 57 percent say the same.
Many commentators have been suggesting the president is becoming more of a moderate. When voters are asked about the administration’s agenda, 44 percent say it is a best described as a “liberal” agenda and 38 percent describe it as a “moderate” one. Few voters -- 9 percent -- call it “conservative.”
When asked to choose the highest priority for Congress right now, the largest number of voters says “reducing unemployment” (48 percent) should be the top item over “reducing the budget deficit” (28 percent) and “changing the health care law” (15 percent).
While the president continues to garner better ratings than Congress, lawmakers also receive a positive bump this month: 31 percent of voters approve and 60 percent disapprove. That’s up from 22 percent approval and 65 percent disapproval in January.
The Fox News poll is based on landline and cell phone interviews with 911 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide and was conducted under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R) from Feb. 7 to Feb. 9. For the total sample, it has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.