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Obama Off to Solid Start, Poll Finds

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The Post's Jennifer Agiesta highlights recent polling trends concerning President Obama's handle of national security, foreign affairs and other critical issues facing the nation. Video by Washingtonpost.com Sarah Lovenheim

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Six in 10 Americans said Obama has kept most of his major campaign assurances, although most said he has not reduced the amount of political partisanship in Washington, as he had pledged to do. At the same time, 90 percent said he is willing to listen to different points of view, and close to two-thirds, 63 percent, said he has brought needed change to Washington.

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About three-quarters of Americans see Obama as a "strong leader," as "honest and trustworthy," as empathetic and as someone who can be trusted in a crisis. Six in 10 said he is in sync with their values, and nearly as many rate him a good commander in chief.

Most (62 percent) continue to see Obama's views on most issues as "just about right" ideologically, despite significant GOP pushback on his initial policy stances.

With 69 percent approving of his job performance, Obama's rating is about the average for postwar presidents at the 100-day mark. Obama's support among Republicans, with 36 percent approving, is similar to Bush's showing among Democrats in late April 2001, and at that time Bush's rating was a touch lower among independents than Obama's is today (62 percent then compared with 67 percent). In April 1993, Clinton had somewhat less backing from the GOP (26 percent of Republicans approved) and from the middle (independents were at 58 percent).

General optimism about the national economy has increased, with 55 percent holding cheery views about the year ahead, the highest level in more than two years, but only a third of those polled said the new stimulus package has helped the overall economy. About a quarter said the same of their communities, and one in seven said their personal financial situation had improved as a result. Although few note immediate rewards, 59 percent said the government action either has or will boost the national economy.

Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill are getting a rougher treatment from Americans. Approval ratings for both parties in Congress have slipped since late February, and public confidence in their ability to make the right decisions for the country's future has dipped as well. Two months ago, independents were as apt to approve as disapprove of congressional Democrats; now 38 percent approve, and 55 percent do not.

There is a warning sign for the GOP in the new poll: 21 percent of those surveyed said they identify as Republicans, the fewest to do so in a Post-ABC poll in more than 25 years. Last fall, Democrats outnumbered Republicans at the polls by the biggest margin in network exit polls going back to the 1982 midterms.

The latest survey was conducted April 21 to 24 among a random national sample of 1,072 adults using standard and cellular phones. The results from the full poll have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.


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