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Confidence in Obama reaches new low, Washington Post-ABC News poll finds

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By Dan Balz and Jon Cohen
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Public confidence in President Obama has hit a new low, according to the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll. Four months before midterm elections that will define the second half of his term, nearly six in 10 voters say they lack faith in the president to make the right decisions for the country, and a clear majority once again disapproves of how he is dealing with the economy.

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Regard for Obama is still higher than it is for members of Congress, but the gap has narrowed. About seven in 10 registered voters say they lack confidence in Democratic lawmakers and a similar proportion say so of Republican lawmakers.

Overall, more than a third of voters polled -- 36 percent -- say they have no confidence or only some confidence in the president, congressional Democrats and congressional Republicans. Among independents, this disillusionment is higher still. About two-thirds of all voters say they are dissatisfied with or angry about the way the federal government is working.

(See the raw data of the Washington Post-ABC poll)

Such broad negative sentiments have spurred a potent anti-incumbent mood. Just 26 percent of registered voters say they are inclined to support their representative in the House this fall; 62 percent are inclined to look for someone new.

Democrats nationally remain on the defensive as they seek to retain both houses of Congress this fall. Registered voters are closely divided on the question of whether they will back Republicans or Democrats in House races. Among those who say they are sure to cast ballots in November, 49 percent side with the GOP and 45 percent with Democrats.

Overall, a slim majority of all voters say they would prefer Republican control of Congress so that the legislative branch would act as a check on the president's policies. Those most likely to vote in the midterms prefer the GOP over continued Democratic rule by a sizable margin of 56 percent to 41 percent.

Economic worries continue to frame the congressional campaigns. Almost all Americans rate the economy negatively, although compared with the depths of the recession in early 2009, far fewer now describe economic conditions as "poor." Only about a quarter of all Americans think the economy is improving.

Recent economic developments -- a declining stock market, problems in the housing industry and an unemployment report showing only tepid job growth in the private sector -- may have bruised the president's ratings.

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Just 43 percent of all Americans now say they approve of the job Obama is doing on the economy, while 54 percent disapprove. Both are the worst, marginally, of his presidency. Even a third of Democrats give him negative marks here. And overall, intensity runs clearly against the president on the issue, with twice as many people rating him strongly negative as strongly positive.

At the same time, Democrats generally continue to hold the edge over Republicans when it comes to dealing with the nation's fragile economy. But that Democratic lead is slimmer than it was in 2006 before the party won back control of Congress. And among those most likely to vote this year, 39 percent trust the Democrats more and 40 percent the Republicans. About 17 percent of likely voters put their confidence in neither side.


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