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Behind the Numbers
Posted at 07:36 AM ET, 03/02/2010

Obama approval sinks in the South

President Obama heads south to Savannah, Georgia Tuesday to pitch his economic program. But in Washington Post-ABC News polls during his tenure, residents of the nation's southern states -- particularly whites -- have expressed broad doubts about the effectiveness of the stimulus package and Obama's leadership.

Last summer, six months after the package passed, about four in 10 Southerners said Obama's economic program was making the economy better, approximately the same as in the rest of the nation. But by October, that figure had dipped to 35 percent in the South while holding near four in 10 elsewhere. One year into Obama's term, the South's take on the stimulus remained doubtful: just 34 percent said it was helping.

There is broader skepticism among whites in the South. In August, among that group, 34 percent said the economic program was making things better. By January, it had fallen to 27 percent. Three in 10 said it was making things worse.

Beyond his economic program, the South has not been a friendly region for Obama. His approval rating dipped below 50 percent there in a Post-ABC poll conducted in September, before it had done so anywhere else in the country. Among whites in the South, it fell below the 50-percent mark three months earlier.

In the latest Post-ABC survey, 49 percent of Southerners approved of the way Obama is handling his presidency. Among Southern whites, the president's approval rating has fallen below four in 10, the only region of the country where that has happened; 37 percent gave him positive marks. On the economy, just 32 percent of whites in the South said they approve.

Views on the stimulus and Obama's handling of the economy by region are below.

Q. Changing topics, do you think Obama's economic program is making the economy better, making it worse or having no real effect?

           Better   Worse   No effect
January      35      23         41
 East        40      16         41
 Midwest     30      22         47
 South       34      25         41
 West        36      26         36

October      41      22         35
 East        49      18         30
 Midwest     39      23         38
 South       35      26         36
 West        44      16         35


August       43      23         32
 East        46      12         40
 Midwest     44      23         31
 South       43      28         28
 West        39      26         31

Q. Do you approve or disapprove of the way Obama is handling the economy?

          -- Approve ---   --Disapprove--
          NET   Strongly   NET   Strongly
February  45       22      53       38

All:
 East     49       23      53       30
 Midwest  43       19      57       44
 South    44       23      54       41
 West     46       22      51       35

Whites:
 East     42       20      57       32
 Midwest  42       19      58       45
 South    32       15      66       51
 West     38       19      58       42

By Jennifer Agiesta  |  07:36 AM ET, 03/02/2010

Categories:  Polls, Polls, Polls, Polls

 
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