The Washington Post

Pollwatchers: Favorable reaction to Libya, Obama’s sinking approval, federal government ranks last

Libya – Military success can turn the tide of public opinion, but not for President Obama’s overall ratings. A 54 percent majority now favors the military action in Libya, up nearly 20 points after rebel forces took control of Tripoli last week, according to a CNN poll released Friday. A similar 52 percent majority now approves of the way Obama is handling the situation there, up seven points from May, but his overall ratings received no such bump (see below for the gory details).

Nearly as many Republicans as Democrats have a favorable view of the military action in Libya – 57 and 61 percent each – a rare point of partisan agreement. More than a third of poll respondents call Gaddafi’s removal from power a major achievement for the U.S. and another 42 percent say it’s a minor achievement. But that is nowhere near as enthusiastic a reaction as eliminating Osama bin Laden or finding Saddam Hussein, where 67 and 82 percent called each a major achievement in polls following those events.

Obama’s (weak) week in approval – Last week’s slew of national polls place Obama’s approval rating in the mid- to low-40s. His ratings from AP and Pew established new low points in those polls, at 46 and 43 percent respectively. His 45 percent approval in CNN is one point from his low in that survey. Gallup’s daily tracking poll pegs Obama lower still — he dipped below 40 percent three times last week alone and twice hit a new low point of 38 percent approval.

Federal government ranks last – As if the terrible ratings of Congress over the past month weren’t enough, the public ranks the entire federal government dead last in a Gallup rating of 25 business and industry sectors. Only 17 percent rate the federal government positively, with 63 giving it a negative rating. That places the government behind lawyers, bankers, the real estate industry, and even oil and gas companies. Hollywood (“the movie industry”) gets twice the positive ratings as the federal government at 38 percent.

The most popular industries are computers, restaurants, Internet companies, farming and grocery stores – all winning majority positive marks. Gallup’s been rating these business sectors for the past decade, and the federal government has fallen 24 points since 2003, the steepest decline of any industry. This is the first year the federal government has been at the very bottom of the pile.

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Peyton M. Craighill is polling manager for the Washington Post. Peyton reports and conducts national and regional news polls for the Washington Post, with a focus on politics, elections and other social and economic issues.


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