Rarely has a set of events impacted a presidential election as much as the recent financial crisis and the subsequent relief efforts by the federal government. According to a new FOX News poll, Americans are not at all supportive of the proposed solution.
A 53 percent majority thinks government involvement is not part of the solution at all, but part of the problem. This view is more intense among Republicans (69 percent) and independents (59 percent)—though a large minority of Democrats (40 percent) also views government involvement in a negative light.
Over half of voters (53 percent) oppose the seven hundred billion dollar rescue package passed by Congress, with about one-third (34 percent) supporting it. Even higher majorities oppose the package among Republicans (57 percent) and independents (59 percent). Moreover, most voters backing Barack Obama (47 percent) and John McCain (56 percent) also oppose the bailout plan.
The national telephone poll was conducted for FOX News by Opinion Dynamics Corp. among 900 registered voters from Oct. 8 to Oct. 9. The poll has a 3-point error margin.
When it comes to gauging the overall impact of the rescue package, one-third (33 percent) think it will help the economy at large — while most feel it will either have no impact (29 percent) or will end up hurting the economy (26 percent). Even fewer people (16 percent) think the bailout will help their own family’s financial situation — while nearly half (47 percent) think it will have no impact and almost one-third (28 percent) think it will hurt their personal finances.
How about our elected officials? The news is not good. A majority of voters (53 percent) thinks the bailout package shows that government leaders "have no idea what they’re doing." More remarkably, only 6 percent believes officials "know exactly what they’re doing and how the rescue plan will affect the economy." While the continued low ratings of both the president and Congress indicate a lack of confidence in Washington, these results are nevertheless staggering.
This new poll also shows that, philosophically, Americans of all stripes are averse to using taxpayer money to bail out financially troubled companies. More than 80 percent of Democrats, Republicans and independents agree on this view — a rare example of consensus this election year. Solid majorities in all three voter groups also believe that, given the current financial environment, lower taxes and smaller government are preferable to the alternative (66 percent of Democrats; 91 percent of Republicans; 72 percent of independents).
These data suggest that voters are highly displeased with the response of the federal government to the financial crisis that erupted over the last several weeks. Given the general agreement across party lines, it’s unclear what impact all of this will have on the presidential race. While Obama seems to have gained the most in the short term, the level of anger we see in these numbers may end up negatively affecting both campaigns.
Ernie Paicopolos is a principal at Opinion Dynamics Corporation.