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Behind the Numbers
Posted at 10:40 AM ET, 10/20/2009

Assessing Obama's accomplishments

Amid the mixed public reviews of President Obama's handling of health care and the economy in the new Washington Post-ABC News poll stands one more even split, this one on how much the president has accomplished in his nine months in office.

About half (49 percent) say Obama has done "a great deal" or "a good amount" so far, half (50 percent) say "not much" or "little or nothing," with those on the far negative end of the scale (23 percent little to nothing) outweighing those on the most positive side (14 percent great deal).

Democrats are most apt to see a full resume, with 73 percent saying Obama's done a great deal or good amount. More than eight in 10 Republicans (84 percent), by contrast, say he hasn't gotten much done. Independents tilt toward the not so much side, 52 percent to 47 percent.

Asked in follow-up interviews what accomplishments stood out to them from Obama's first nine months in office, poll respondents who supported the president in the 2008 election cited the economy and taking the first steps on reforming health care, while those unhappy with the outcome see him leading in the wrong direction. More in their own words after the jump.

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Q. Obama has been president for about nine months. Would you say he has accomplished a great deal during that time, a good amount, not very much or little or nothing?

SOURCE: Washington Post-ABC News poll conducted Oct. 15-18 among a random national sample of 1,004 adults. The results have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.

Bill Cresswell, 56, of Mason Neck, Va., called Obama's top accomplishment "keeping the economy from totally collapsing. The economy may not be great now but I'm reasonably sure that if some dramatic steps hadn't been taken that we'd be in worse off shape than we are now."

Among those who approve of the job Obama's done so far, 75 percent feel he's ticked off a good deal of his to do list, while 86 percent of disapprovers say he's done very little. Reinterviews with poll participants suggest those who disapprove see his accomplishments as counterproductive.

Shaun Carr, 37, a poll respondent from Webster, NY, said, "I think he hasn't accomplished anything except really put handcuffs on the economy." Carr, who is in sales, said from what he's seen in his business travels, the stimulus package is not working. "I look at companies all over this country that are hurting and cutting people and trying to do 10 things with the same person that they used to do with 10 different people, it's tough all over."

Another poll taker, John Krinke of Sussex, Wisc., said he thinks Obama has just been doing the wrong things. "I didn't really know what to expect back in January," he said. "I was upset with the outcome of the election, but I wasn't a big fan of the Republican candidate either."

Since then, Krinke said, the bad has outweighed the good. "The stuff he's been doing right I haven't been paying that much attention to because it's being far overshadowed by the other things I wholeheartedly disagree with."

Some remain focused on the overall change in atmosphere.

Susan Beam, 44, a North Carolina realtor, said she thought his biggest achievement began with the mood struck during last year's campaign. "I think just creating a better atmosphere, an atmosphere of more hope and generosity in the world," she said.

"He's only been in there for nine months, and it's hard to accomplish a lot in that time. I hope that people will give him enough time to accomplish some of the things that are on his agenda, but I think we can't understimate the worth of generating hope and generosity."

By Jennifer Agiesta  |  10:40 AM ET, 10/20/2009

Categories:  Post Polls, Post Polls

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