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Behind the Numbers
Posted at 12:00 PM ET, 07/27/2009

Biden's Watchdog Role May Have Bite

Vice President Biden, the anointed "Sheriff" of the stimulus is well rated generally in a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, with public opinion riven by the views of the administration's economic programs as well as the usual sharp partisan lines.

Overall, 55 percent approve of the way the Vice President is handling his job, 33 percent disapprove, similar to an August 2001 reading on former vice president Dick Cheney from CBS News (53 percent approved) but a bit lower than a Post-ABC reading on Bush's number two from April of that year (64 percent approved).

Democrats have a more positive take on Biden than do Republicans (79 to 24 percent approve), while independents sit at 54 percent approval. But one of the sharpest fissures is whether one has confidence in the administration's economic program.

Among those who are confident the president's plan will improve the economy, 80 percent approve of Biden, dubbed the stimulus' watchdog by the president, who said, "Nobody messes with Joe". But among those with doubts about the economic package, just 25 percent approve of Biden's work thus far.

The rift holds even among political independents: Three-quarters of those who are confident about the prospects for the stimulus approve of Biden's job performance, compared with just three in ten of those less sure of it.

(Biden penned a vigorous defense of the stimulus against early critics in Sunday's New York Times.)

Among Biden's perceived advantages during the presidential campaign was to help Obama reach out to middle- and working-class white voters like those in Biden's boyhood hometown of Scranton, Pa. These days, it doesn't appear Obama needs the extra help in that arena. Among whites without college degrees, 51 percent approve of the job Obama's doing, 48 percent approve of Biden. And among white Catholics, half give the vice president a positive assessment, 55 percent do so for Obama.

Biden scores his highest approval rating in a region of the country familiar to almost anyone following presidential politics, the upper midwest: The "East North Central" Census division - which includes Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin - rates Biden at 63 percent approval.

Q. Do you approve or disapprove of the way Joe Biden is handling his job as vice president?

             Approve   Disapprove
All            55          33

Democrats      79          14
Independents   54          32
Republicans    24          66

Liberal        79           8
Moderate       62          26
Conservative   36          54

Confidence in 
 Obama's economic package:
Confident      80           12
Not confident  25           61

SOURCE: Washington Post-ABC News poll conducted July 15-18 among a random national sample of 1,001 adults including users of both conventional and cellular phones. Results from the full survey have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points; error margins are higher among subgroups.

By Jennifer Agiesta  |  12:00 PM ET, 07/27/2009

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