Tuesday, 11 October 2011 15:38

Polls: The Right Is Wrong on Obama, Occupy Wall Street

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Occupy Wall StreetThe Occupy Wall Street protests in New York and DC over the past two weeks have captured the media's attention and provided a new voice for Americans disenchanted with the influence that corporate America has in our political process. Whether related or not, these protests coincide with a change in public attitudes towards elected leaders in Washington and the public's perceptions of who is fighting for them. Over the last few weeks, public poll data has found that President Obama's standing on standing up for the middle class and fighting to create jobs has improved. Though Republicans and pundits on the right try to place Obama's policies out of line with most Americans, an ABC News poll out this week gives the President a 20-point lead over Congressional Republicans on protecting the interests of middle class Americans (52% Obama / 32% GOP). Meanwhile Americans overwhelmingly believe that the Republicans are concerned about protecting the interests of wealthy Americans (70% GOP / 17% Obama).  For further evidence that Americans fall on the side of the White House on recent policies, see our newsletter following the President's Jobs speech.

 A Rasmussen poll out this week finds that the public has not yet formed firm opinions about the protests; 40% have no opinion towards the protesters. Those with an opinion give the protestors a slightly net-favorable rating (33% favorable / 27% unfavorable) and are divided on the protests themselves (34% support / 31% oppose).  Those are mixed numbers, but the favorable rating for the protestors is higher than either party in Congress's.


Although public sentiment towards OWS has not yet settled, there is consensus around some of the things the protesters stand for. The same Rasmussen poll finds that 79% of Americans agree with the statement "The big banks got bailed out, while we got left behind" and 62% of Americans want to see major corporations have less influence in the country, according to Gallup. In fact, Gallup also finds that major corporations and banks/financial institutions only trail "lobbyists" in perceived power - 67% believe that these institutions have too much, ahead of even the federal government (58%). According to a CBS News poll Wall Street is second only to the Bush administration in blame for problems with the economy -- (22% Bush / 16% Wall Street). A Public Policy Poll finds that by a 20-point margin, Americans believe that corporate greed contributed to the current economy and corporations need to be reined in (57%) rather than believing that now is not the time to constrict corporations when we are trying to get the economy on track (37%).


Although a  Pew poll finds that a majority (52%) of Americans do not believe the nation is divided into "haves" and "have-nots", nearly half (48%) would consider themselves haves, only 34% think of themselves as a have-not.  More than his recent predecessors, President Obama is viewed as helping the have-nots (29%) over the haves (15%), and 45% believe he helped both equally.  A plurality of Americans (47%) believed that President Bush helped the interest of the haves and 49% believed Reagan did.


Americans view the President as a strong advocate for the middle class and people like them, a trend that has only improved as Congressional Republicans try to paint his policies as class warfare and out of line with what voters want. A Quinnipiac poll finds that a majority of Americans believe Obama "cares about the needs and problems of people like you" - 54% - 43%. This breaks along party lines, though Obama's strength on this measure extends to Independents (54% - 44%).


The ABC News poll out this week that finds Obama has a sizable lead over Republicans on protecting the interests of middle  class Americans (52% Obama / 32% GOP)  is consistent with ABC's polling on this over the summer, which found the same margin for Obama on protecting middle class Americans, and also found that Republicans in Congress were more likely to be viewed as protecting the interests of Wall Street institutions (59% Republicans / 26% Obama), and large business corporations (67% Republicans / 24% Obama).


The ABC poll out this week finds that Obama has a 15-point edge over Republicans in Congress on his approval rating for his handling of the economy (he receives 35% to the GOP's 20%), though we should note that when given a forced choice, Americans split on which they trust more (43% Obama - 42% GOP). 


Americans do trust Obama to do a better job creating jobs (49% Obama - 34% GOP), an increase since last month when he was even with Republicans (40% Obama - 40% GOP), potentially a result of his jobs speech and plan. They also have shifted towards trusting the President to determine the right balance between cutting spending from the right programs and continuing government spending that is needed (44% Obama - 39% GOP, from 41% Obama - 44% GOP in June). That said, his overall approval rating remains 42%, unchanged from the last two months. 


John Anzalone and Jeff Liszt

Bayoubuzz Note:  Anzalone and Jeff Liszt of Amzalone Liszt Research are polstersl for the Democratic Party and Democratic candidates.

World intrigued by Occupy Wall Street movement (Reuters)


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