Poll: Americans’ views on economy, Obama’s role sour

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Judith Lee, 63, a retired teacher from Great Diamond Island, Maine, said she’s a Republican who voted for Mr. Obama in 2008 but has been disappointed by his leadership style.

“I don’t think he is a very forceful leader,” Ms. Lee said. “His style of leadership seems to be to look for consensus and ideas from other people, and it seems to have been ineffective. And Congress seems to be deadlocked on problems.”

Some 75 percent in the poll said the U.S. is heading in the wrong direction, up from 63 percent in June. Among Democrats, 61 percent chose “wrong direction” — up from 46 percent in June.

In a new high, 52 percent of all adults said they disapprove of his overall performance — 52 percent, up from 47 percent in June. Among Democrats, approval fell 8 points, to 74 percent from 82 percent in June. Among Republicans, it fell to 11 percent from 22 percent.

Politically, the poll underscores the difficult time ahead for Mr. Obama as he seeks re-election in a shaky economy.

Unemployment increased to 9.2 percent in July, up from 9.1 percent in June. And most economists don’t expect it to decline much below 8.5 percent by the November 2012 presidential election. No president has won re-election with a jobless rate that high since Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1936.

So why hasn’t the rise in pessimism taken more of a toll?

Despite the general rise in gloom, it seems unlikely that liberal Democrats will flock away from Mr. Obama even if they have rising doubts about his agenda or economic leadership, analysts suggest. And independents, who helped elect Mr. Obama in 2008 and are now being actively wooed by both parties, did not exhibit significant changes in their approval levels.

It was at 44 percent, statistically no different from the 43 percent approval rating among independents in June.

“A lot is out of his hands,” said Penny Johansen, 65, a retired legal secretary from Tempe, Ariz. “There is only so much one person can do, and one person cannot be blamed for the acts of others.” Politically unaligned, she voted for Mr. Obama in 2008 and said she’ll probably do so again.

On related economic issues, 59 percent said they disapproved of Mr. Obama’s handling of tax issues, up from 53 percent in June. And 64 percent said they disapproved of his handling of the annual budget deficit, compared with 63 percent in June.

Sixty percent described the financial situation in their own households as “good,” about even with the level in June. Asked if they expected their financial situation to change over the next 12 months, 31 percent said they expected it to get better, 12 percent expected it to get worse and a majority — 56 percent — said they expected it to “stay about the same.”

As to creating jobs, some 44 percent said they would trust Democrats to do a better job, while 42 percent said Republicans would.

The AP-GfK poll was conducted Aug. 18-22 by GfK Roper Public Affairs and Corporate Communications. It involved landline and cellphone interviews with 1,000 adults nationwide and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.

Associated Press Deputy Polling Director Jennifer Agiesta, News Survey Specialist Dennis Junius and writers Kasie Hunt and Stacy Anderson contributed to this report.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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