Poll watchers: Anger at government peaks; GOP favors Perry; MLK popular in retrospect

-Anger at government boils to new high — More than a quarter of Americans are outright “angry” at the federal government, almost doubling from March and the highest in polls dating to 1997, according to a new Pew Research Center poll released Thursday. Disapproval of President Obama also reaches new heights in Pew polls (49 percent), along with a sharp increase in the number who disapprove “very strongly;” up from 29 percent in March to 38 percent today.

Partisans are increasingly dissatisfied with their own leadership. Fully 57 percent of Democrats now want Obama to challenge Republicans when dealing with Congress, up from 39 percent in April; fewer say he’s “handling the situation about right.” And approval of Republican leaders in Congress among tea party Republicans and GOP-leaning independents has tanked since the beginning of the year, from 74 percent in January to 37 percent in August.

-GOP charmed by Perry; Bush still gets more blame for economy — Republicans and GOP-leaning independents rate Texas Gov. Rick Perry favorably by a more than 5 to 1 margin — 63 favorable vs. 12 percent unfavorable in an Associated Press-GfK poll released Friday. There’s still plenty of goodwill for Mitt Romney — almost two-thirds of Republicans hold favorable views of him, and majorities of both conservative and more liberal Republicans rate him positively.

Among all Americans, half of adults say former president George W. Bush deserves almost all or a lot of blame for the nation’s economic problems. Asked separately, 31 percent say Obama deserves the same amount of blame. More than four in 10 single out Republicans in Congress, while 36 percent say the same about congressional Democrats.
-King remembered much more fondly than in ’60s — Americans almost unanimously view the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. favorably today (94 percent), whose monument now stands on the Mall, according to an Gallup poll released Friday. That’s a sharp contrast to views of the civil rights leader in the mid-1960s, when the public rated him negatively by almost two to one, 63 percent unfavorable to 33 percent favorable. A Washington Post poll released Tuesday found a dramatic drop since 2009 in the percentage of both whites and blacks saying King’s “dream” has been fulfilled, a number that almost doubled among African Americans after Obama’s election in 2008.

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Scott Clement is a survey research analyst for The Washington Post. Scott specializes in public opinion about politics, election campaigns and public policy.

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