Research Impacts - Polls

Time Magazine/Abt SRBI Economy Poll Data

Release Date: 7/15/2010

Stimulus Bill Not Necessary for Recovery;
No Stomach for Additional Stimulus

By Seth Brohinsky and Mark Schulman, Abt SRBI

Amid the worst financial crisis in memory and a job-less recovery Americans view of the Obama administration’s economic policies remains divided. According the latest Time Poll, a majority (53% - 44%) disapprove of President Obama’s handling of the economy.

Obama’s Economic Policies: Reviews Mixed

Americans are divided on the imgact of programs the Obama administration has pushed through in an attempt to stimulate economic recovery. When asked if the Obama administration policies have helped or hurt the economic recovery, more believe they helped (31%) than hurt (26%) the recovery. However, most (43%) said they either had little imgact or didn’t know.

The numbers tilt only slightly in Obama’s favor when Americans were asked specifically about the stimulus program. More than two in five (43%) believe the stimulus program of additional federal spending helped the economy recover. However, almost 1 in 3 (32%) believe it had little imgact, while 22% said it hurt the recovery.

  • The reviews are divided along party lines, with 66% of Democrats and 41% of Independents saying the stimulus helped the economy recover; compared to just 21% of Republicans.

No Second Stimulus

Despite the weak but slightly positive slant to the stimulus program’s effectiveness, most (53%) Americans believe the economy would be better off today if the government had not spent the additional money on the stimulus program.

  • Fully 56% of Independents agree we would have been better off if the government had not spent the additional money.

Regardless of the mixed reviews of the stimulus program, Americans are dead set against any additional government spending; more than two thirds (67%) oppose a second stimulus bill. The opposition cuts across all party lines; it is opposed by Republicans (88%), Independents (73%), and a near majority of Democrats (48%).

Despite Poor Economy, Outlook Remains Positive

Nearly all Americans (90%) continue to rate economic conditions as either only fair (38%) or poor (52%). Additionally, seven in ten (70%) agree that economic conditions today are no better than a year ago and 56% say the country is on the wrong track.

However, given the gloomy current economic state, most Americans do not see a double-dip downturn in the future... Nearly eight in ten (79%) expect that economic conditions will be the same (36%) or better (43%) a year from now.

Democrats remain the most optimistic -- 60% believe that economic conditions will be better a year from now, compared to just one quarter (26%) of Republicans. Independent voters tend to align closer to Republicans than Democrats in their optimism; just 38% believe economic conditions will imgrove in the next twelve months.

Looking Ahead to 2012

The poll raises questions about Sarah Plain’s viability as a presidential contender. In a hypothetical match-up against Obama in 2012, Obama dominates 55% - 34% among registered voters.

  • Among key Independent voters, Palin continues trails Obama by 11 points, 47% to 36%.

In more troubling news for Palin supporters, when Republican voters were asked which candidates they probably could not support for the Republican nomination, Palin was named most often (22%). Newt Gingrich (8%) received the second most mentions for non-support.

  • Nearly one quarter (24%) of female Republican voters name Palin as a candidate they probably could not support for the Republican nomination.

In a wide open Republican field for the party nomination, Mike Huckabee (19%) and Mitt Romney (18%) are the early favorites, but preferences were scattered. Other Republican mentions include:

  • Sarah Palin - 14%
  • Newt Gingrich - 12%
  • Jeb Bush - 9%

Obama Approval Down

President Obama’s approval rating has dropped seven percentage points from this time last year (56% last year to 49% now).

  • Obama disapproval rating is up seven percentage points from 38% last year to 45%.

A majority of Americans disapprove of Obama’s handling of:

  • The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico – 54%
  • Immigration policy – 53%
  • The economy – 53%

Bush vs. Obama: Who’s to Blame?

Despite all the negative indicators, most Americans do not hold President Obama responsible for the economic problems the country faces today. Significantly more Americans (61%) blame the Bush administration than the Obama administration (27%) for the state of the economy. In addition, most (53%) believe Obama is the better president.

  • Independents overwhelmingly (56%) blame the Bush administration for the current state of the economy, compared to 28% who blame the Obama administration.
  • Independents also favor Obama as the better president by 11 percentage points over Bush (48% to 37%).

Democratic Majority Threatened in Mid-Terms

With mid-term elections approaching in November, the Democratic majority in Congress could be threatened. Likely voters are split evenly in the generic House race, with 43% saying they would vote for the Democratic candidate in their district and 42% voting for the Republican candidate.

  • Most troubling for Congressional Democrats is the split of Independents. Almost half of independents (47%) at this point would vote for the Republican candidate in their district, while just three in ten (31%) plan to vote Democratic. However, nearly two in ten (17%) Independent likely voters remain undecided.

No longer do Democrats hold a large advantage over Republicans as the party to trust to handle the economic recovery.

  • Only slightly more Americans trust Democrats (43%) than Republicans (39%) to handle the recovery.
  • More Americans believe it would be a good thing (36%) if control of congress switched from Democrats to Republicans than a bad thing (24%).
  • Among key Independents, most say it would be a good thing (39%) if Republicans took control of Congress, compared to just 19% who believe it would be a bad thing.

Immigration Debate Heats Up

Until recently Washington leaders had largely sidestepped immigration policy. However, with controversial new immigration reform being signed into law in Arizona, immigration is once again on the front burner. Almost half (49%) of Americans rate the federal government’s efforts on protecting the nation’s borders from illegal immigration as “poor.” Americans overwhelmingly (66%) feel immigration is a major issue compared to other problems facing the country. Nearly three quarters (72%) of Americans have been following news about the state of Arizona’s new immigration law closely.

  • Three in five Americans (60% vs. 35%) favor Arizona’s new law despite the fact that a majority (54%) agree that the law could lead to harassment by police of legal citizens who look like illegal immigrants.
  • A majority (63%) also agree that the federal government and not the state is responsible for immigration laws.


Abt SRBI Public Affairs designed the survey and conducted all interviewing.

This Time Magazine poll was conducted by telephone July 12 – 13, 2010 among a national random sample of 1,003 Americans, ages 18 and older, throughout America The poll includes limited interviews with cell phone respondents.

The margin of error for the entire sample is approximately +/- 3 percentage points. The margin of error is higher for subgroups. Surveys are subject to other error sources as well, including sampling coverage error, recording error, and respondent error.

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