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Behind the Numbers
Posted at 12:05 PM ET, 07/19/2011

Obama tops GOP on helping middle class; also has edge on small business

When it comes to protecting the economic interests of the middle class, President Obama has a decisive advantage over congressional Republicans, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The president also has a double-digit lead when it comes to caring more about people’s own family financial interests and edges out the GOP on helping small businesses, which has been a flash point in the high-profile, big-stakes contest over debt and deficits.

Obama’s advantages over the GOP in these areas emerge despite an overall approval rating — 47 percent — near the lowest of his presidency in Post-ABC polling. As before, more Americans “strongly disapprove” than “strongly approve” of the way he is handling his job (35 to 25 percent).  

But pitted against the GOP, the president benefits from a widespread perception that the Republicans in Congress are particularly in sync with the economic interests of Wall Street financial institutions and large business corporations.

Asked who cares more about the financial concerns of middle-class Americans,  Obama has a big advantage, 53 percent to 35 percent, over the Republicans in Congress. He’s up 47 percent to 37 percent when poll respondents were asked about themselves and their families. On protecting the interests of small businesses, 48 percent of Americans say Obama cares more; 39 percent say so of the GOP.

Majorities across party lines see the GOP as caring more than Obama about Wall Street and big business.

Obama’s overall approval rating is a shade below where presidents Bill Clinton (51 percent) and Ronald Reagan (52 percent) were at this stage in their first terms in Post-ABC polling.

At a similar time in 1983, Reagan benefited from substantial approval among independents (57 percent approving; 39 percent disapproving), topping Obama’s spread of 48 percent to 46 percent among those in the middle of the partisan spectrum. Relative to Obama, Clinton was buoyed by 22 percent approval among Republicans, which is more than double Obama’s current 9 percent among the opposing party.

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By  |  12:05 PM ET, 07/19/2011

 
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