More Poll Numbers (None of Them Especially Happy)

The new CBS/NYT poll is out and the numbers are not exactly happy, no matter whom you support.

Bad numbers for Obama in the latest New York Times/CBS Poll:

with 70 percent of poll respondents saying that the country was heading in the wrong direction, the public was not exhibiting warm feelings toward officeholders of either party.

Most Americans think neither Mr. Obama nor the Congressional Republicans share their priorities for the country. Mr. Obama’s job approval remains below a majority, with 46 percent saying they approve of his performance in office.

Displeasure with the political class has a distinct bipartisan flavor, however:

Republicans have their own challenges. More than half of poll respondents, 56 percent, said they did not have a favorable view of the party, as opposed to 37 percent who said they did. (The Democratic Party fared somewhat better: 49 percent did not have favorable views of it and 44 percent did.)

As the House speaker, Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, becomes the face of his party in Congress, more disapprove of his job performance (41 percent) than approve of it (32 percent); 27 percent said they did not have an opinion of him.

The displeasure with officeholders of both parties is reminiscent of the mood that prevailed in November, when anti-incumbent sentiment swept Democrats out of power in the House and diminished their edge in the Senate.

The key to it all:

Frustration with the pace of economic growth has grown since, with 28 percent of respondents in a New York Times/CBS poll in late October saying the economy was getting worse, and 39 percent saying so in the latest poll. “They’re saying it will get better, but it’s not,” Frank Tufenkdjian, a Republican of Bayville, N.Y., said in a follow-up interview. “I know so many people who are unemployed and can’t find a job.”

Also, more cognitive dissonance in the public:

In what Republicans can take as a positive sign as they seek a more limited government, 55 percent of poll respondents said they would rather have fewer services from a smaller government than more services from a bigger one, as opposed to 33 percent who said the opposite, a continuation of a trend in Times/CBS polls.

And slightly more Americans approve than disapprove of a proposal by Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin to change Medicare from a program that pays doctors and hospitals directly for treating older people to one in which the government helps such patients pay for private plans, though that support derived more from Republicans and independents. A recent Washington Post/ABC News poll that found 65 percent opposed Mr. Ryan’s plan, suggesting results can vary based on how the question is asked.

Twice as many respondents said they would prefer cuts in spending on federal programs that benefit people like them as said they would favor a rise in taxes to pay for such programs.

Yet more than 6 in 10 of those surveyed said they believed Medicare was worth the costs. And when asked specifically about Medicare, respondents said they would rather see higher taxes than see a reduction in its available medical services if they had to choose between the two.

Given the choice of cutting military, Social Security or Medicare spending as a way to reduce the overall budget, 45 percent chose military cuts, compared with those to Social Security (17 percent) or Medicare (21 percent.)

So, on the one hand a majority of people want a smaller government and fewer services, but there is little support for cutting Medicare of Social Security (and not even a majority picks military cuts as the primary place to cut).  Meanwhile, roughly 60% think that Medicare is worth the expense but also a majority likes the Ryan Plan, which (regardless of what else you might say about it) will shift the some (perhaps a significant amount) of the cost onto the public.

FILED UNDER: Public Opinion Polls, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. george says:

    So, on the one hand a majority of people want a smaller government and fewer services, but there is little support for cutting Medicare of Social Security (and not even a majority picks military cuts as the primary place to cut). Meanwhile, roughly 60% think that Medicare is worth the expense but also a majority likes the Ryan Plan, which (regardless of what else you might say about it) will shift the some (perhaps a significant amount) of the cost onto the public.

    Its pretty much human nature to want to have your cake and eat it too. Eventually hard decisions will have to be made about what level of services the majority wants (medicare, military etc) and how to pay for them (ie tax levels), but I suspect it’ll work the same way as it does in many people’s personal finances … we’ll live in increasing depth until forced by bankruptcy to make a decision, either to raise taxes or cut spending.

  2. jwest says:

    It’s a good thing no one is proposing cutting Medicare.

  3. It’s a good thing no one is proposing cutting Medicare.

    It all depends on the meaning of the words “cut” and “Medicare”.

    And, btw, I am not opposed to cutting Medicare as a general proposition.

  4. john personna says:

    How do you feel about Intrade?

    I am not a real predictions-markets advocate, but I think they do show a pulse of opinion.

    Obama is running at intrade with 58.6% of re-election. I guess people who feel that those odds are strongly out of line should run over and place a bet …

  5. Gary D. Olinger says:

    The mentality of this country is lost in history. What we don’t have from our leaders is the shrinking tax base. I would like to know the percent of those making over 200k, 250k, etc. Obama grossed 5 million in 2009. He should set the example of paying 250k more in taxes as a leader. He did not.

  6. @Gary:

    For what it’s worth:

    The Obamas paid $453,770 in federal taxes, for an effective tax rate of just over 26 percent; the top individual tax rate is 35 percent.

    The Obamas donated $245,075 — 14.2 percent of their income before tax deductions and exemptions — to 36 charities.

    Separately, the Obamas paid $51,568 in state income taxes to Illinois.

    Of course, that is for this year (not 2009, which you cite above). Their income was ~$1.7 million.

    Source

  7. ponce says:

    Things are actually looking good for Obama.

    Like this one from this morning:

    Most Voters Still Blame Bush Recession for Bad Economy

    http://tinyurl.com/3jbfsmg

  8. Pete says:

    Ponce, if Obama can’t provide convincing proof of economic improvement by his re-election time, who cares if Bush is still blamed for starting the mess? Obama is not a big believer in the free market, therefore, he must use the government to get the economy moving and so far it isn’t working. Will he succeed? I’d bet against Intrade on him succeeding; maybe not on his re-election since the repubs have the typical lineup of drab characters.

  9. ponce says:

    Pete,

    It’s the Republicans in the House who are on the hook to “fix” the economy, not Obama.

  10. jwest says:

    Ponce,

    The best thing about liberals is, given enough time and the proper motivation, they can be talked into just about anything.

    You’re right. Obama’s doing just fine. (heh)

  11. ponce says:

    “The best thing about liberals is, given enough time and the proper motivation, they can be talked into just about anything. ”

    Sure, JWest,

    That’s why a majority of Americans now support legalizing same sex marriages.

    Because the liberals are easy to sway.

  12. Tlaloc says:

    And abortion. Liberals got suckered into the prolife camp long ago.

    Wait…

  13. mpw280 says:

    Hey without abortion there would be a lot more liberals, so get suckered in all you want. mpw

  14. mpw280 says:

    Sorry ponce, the idea that a congress is responsible for the budget is bs, you dumped on Bush for Pelosi/Reid so suck it up and own it, the first two years was all dem all the time. mpw

  15. ponce says:

    “the idea that a congress is responsible for the budget is bs”

    Not according to the Constitution.

  16. mpw280 says:

    I will correct that, only a republican president is responsible for the budget. The president proposes a budget, the house marks it up/votes, the senate marks it up/votes, it is reconciled/marked up more and the president signs it. I know the route it takes. Though in reality it was Clinton that was responsible for the balanced budget not the congress according to ponce, yet I never remember hearing that way and dems continue to talk about how Clinton balanced the budget, so make up your minds either the pres owns the budget he signs or he doesn’t, but you can’t have it both ways when you talk. mpw

  17. jwest says:

    This should help the Obama reelection effort:

    http://money.cnn.com/2011/04/22/news/economy/highest_gas_prices_in_the_nation/index.htm?hpt=T2

    Why is Obama setting the gas prices so high? Even though he campaigned on raising gas prices, doesn’t he know how hard this hits poor, working class people?

  18. george says:

    Both parties take credit for good things that happen under their presidency, and blame congress for bad things that happen under their presidency. And of course, blame bad things on the president when he’s from the opposition party, and credit the congress for good things when they’re from their party. Welcome to human nature – most of us do the same in our personal lives to some extent.

    Its of course always a combination of president and congress … but that doesn’t make for good spin on either side, so its generally ignored.

  19. mpw280 says:
  20. ratufa says:

    If you’re a voter who is worried about the economy and unhappy with both parties, listening to people argue with each other about which party is responsible for fixing the economy is not going to improve your mood. What’s more, it’s a pretty stupid argument, since no bill is going to become law without the consent of both parties, at least until (possibly, depending on the elections) January 2013.

    As for the graph posted by mpw280 showing top tax rates and the share of income taxes paid by the top 1%, that graph is pretty much useless for making your point unless you also include the share of income earned by the top 1%. Post another graph that includes that data and then you can beat on the liberals.

  21. mpw280 says:

    The graph debunks the meme that the rich don’t pay their “fair” share, whatever that means.

    Here is for ratufa
    Who pays what

    mpw

  22. ratufa says:

    mpw280,

    The point you said you were making with your tax rate vs income tax share graph was that if you lower the top rate, the top 1% will wind up paying more taxes. What I said was that the graph you provided doesn’t prove that point, because changes in the share of taxes paid by the top 1% also depend on changes in the share of income earned by the top 1%.

    Your “who pays what” graph also doesn’t make your original point (lowering top rates increases taxes paid) because it also does not include share of income. Not having share of income data also doesn’t really say much about what the “fair share” should be for people in the top 1%. You may want to look at:

    http://www.taxfoundation.org/blog/show/27134.html

    which is relevant the “fair share” argument, though it doesn’t directly address your earlier point about marginal tax rates.

    As to what is “fair” in terms of taxes, that’s one of the sticking points between liberals and conservatives with respect to taxes and it’s not going to get resolved just by statistical tables (though, those tables are useful for mapping out where the disagreements are). A liberal response to arguments about the large share of income taxes paid by the wealthy would be something like this:

    http://www.tnr.com/blog/jonathan-chait/87204/no-half-all-workers-arent-freeloaders

  23. An Interested Party says:

    Obama is not a big believer in the free market, therefore, he must use the government to get the economy moving and so far it isn’t working.

    And yet the economy fell into the ditch while we had the MBA president…oh wait, let me guess, the economy took a nosedive because of Freddie/Fannie and Barney Frank…

    The best thing about liberals is, given enough time and the proper motivation, they can be talked into just about anything.

    Why yes, certainly for some, like those, particularly in the Senate, who voted for Bush’s Iraq Debacle…

    Hey without abortion there would be a lot more liberals, so get suckered in all you want.

    Keeo telling yourself that…who knew there were so many liberals in those red states where abortion rates are at or above the national average…