President Barack Obama has hardly achieved anything during his first three years in office, most Americans believe.
Just 12 percent – less than 1 person in 8 – say he has accomplished a great deal, despite Democrats’ boasts that he got through his signature healthcare plan and was in power when Osama bin Laden was killed, according to a new poll published on Wednesday.
Significantly more voters believe that it is Obama rather than Republicans in Congress who is to blame for the inaction.
A total of 52 percent believe the president has done either “not much” or “little or nothing,” the poll, commissioned by the Washington Post and ABC News, found. The Post said the results showed that Obama “faces a dispirited and polarized electorate that is sharply divided over his record, worried about the pace of the economic recovery and deeply pessimistic about the country’s trajectory.”
But despite the findings, the survey shows that whoever ends up battling Obama in November’s general election is still in for a tough fight. GOP front-runner Mitt Romney wins a potential match-up by just 1 percentage point, while Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum all lose.
“The president’s ratings on a series of domestic and economic issues paint a portrait of an incumbent facing a difficult reelection campaign,” said the Post. “Yet Obama has begun to recover from career lows in several important areas, including job creation, which is expected to be at the center of the debate in the general-election contest.”
The one bright spot for the president was on whether people believe the country is heading in the right or wrong direction. Even though more than 2-out-of-every-3 respondents still say America is on the wrong track, those who disagree rose from 22 percent to 30 percent since the same question was asked in November.
But ABC pointed out that the president has “one particular risk ahead,” which could change all that. Gas prices have risen by 16 percent over the past month and if they continue to go up, “the recent, tentative advances in economic and political sentiment would be imperiled.”
The poll was timed to coincide with Obama’s final State of the Union speech of his first term. He is due to address Congress in the annual showpiece on Tuesday.
On the question of how much Obama has accomplished since taking the oath of office, even his supporters could not muster much enthusiasm. While 35 percent answered “a good amount,” just 12 percent said “a great deal.”
Those who oppose the president were much more forthright in their views with 27 percent saying “little or nothing” and 25 percent answering “not much.”
And while his general job approval rating was split down the middle with 48 percent saying they approve and an identical figure saying they disapprove, a breakdown of those figures again shows that the president’s opponents have much stronger views than his supporters. A total of 25 percent say they “strongly approve” of his performance while 37 percent say they “strongly disapprove.”
Of those who said he had achieved not much or nothing, more than half – 56 percent – blamed Obama, with just 18 percent saying it was Congressional Republicans who are at fault.
But Congress as a whole is still held in disdain by Americans, the poll discovered. Just 13 percent approve with the job it is doing while a massive 84 percent disapprove.
The poll also discovered that twice as many people say they are worse off than those who say they are better off since Obama entered the White House. “That’s a worse ratio than it was when George H.W. Bush lost office in a storm of economic discontent in 1992,” ABC pointed out.
Pollsters asked 1,000 randomly selected adults nationwide their opinion of Obama’s performance on seven specific issues. He fared worst on his handling of Iran over the issue of nuclear weapons with just 33 percent approving and 48 percent disapproving. He also received negative figures on the budget deficit, the economy, job creation, taxes and international affairs.
The only area in which his support was over half was the threat of terrorism, where 56 percent approved while 38 percent disapproved.
Among other findings:
• 54 percent said that based on their own experience the economy has not started to recover while 45 percent said it has;
• By a narrow majority of 49-46 percent, most people believe that any of the leading Republicans will beat Obama in the election; and
• Many more people – 55 percent to 35 percent – believe that economic unfairness is a bigger problem in the country than over-regulation of the free market.
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