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Biden's Watchdog Role May Have Bite

Vice President Biden, the anointed "Sheriff" of the stimulus is well rated generally in a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, with public opinion riven by the views of the administration's economic programs as well as the usual sharp partisan lines.

Overall, 55 percent approve of the way the Vice President is handling his job, 33 percent disapprove, similar to an August 2001 reading on former vice president Dick Cheney from CBS News (53 percent approved) but a bit lower than a Post-ABC reading on Bush's number two from April of that year (64 percent approved).

Democrats have a more positive take on Biden than do Republicans (79 to 24 percent approve), while independents sit at 54 percent approval. But one of the sharpest fissures is whether one has confidence in the administration's economic program.

Among those who are confident the president's plan will improve the economy, 80 percent approve of Biden, dubbed the stimulus' watchdog by the president, who said, "Nobody messes with Joe". But among those with doubts about the economic package, just 25 percent approve of Biden's work thus far.

The rift holds even among political independents: Three-quarters of those who are confident about the prospects for the stimulus approve of Biden's job performance, compared with just three in ten of those less sure of it.

(Biden penned a vigorous defense of the stimulus against early critics in Sunday's New York Times.)

Among Biden's perceived advantages during the presidential campaign was to help Obama reach out to middle- and working-class white voters like those in Biden's boyhood hometown of Scranton, Pa. These days, it doesn't appear Obama needs the extra help in that arena. Among whites without college degrees, 51 percent approve of the job Obama's doing, 48 percent approve of Biden. And among white Catholics, half give the vice president a positive assessment, 55 percent do so for Obama.

Biden scores his highest approval rating in a region of the country familiar to almost anyone following presidential politics, the upper midwest: The "East North Central" Census division - which includes Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin - rates Biden at 63 percent approval.

Q. Do you approve or disapprove of the way Joe Biden is handling his job as vice president?

             Approve   Disapprove
All            55          33

Democrats      79          14
Independents   54          32
Republicans    24          66

Liberal        79           8
Moderate       62          26
Conservative   36          54

Confidence in 
 Obama's economic package:
Confident      80           12
Not confident  25           61

SOURCE: Washington Post-ABC News poll conducted July 15-18 among a random national sample of 1,001 adults including users of both conventional and cellular phones. Results from the full survey have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points; error margins are higher among subgroups.

By Jennifer Agiesta  |  July 27, 2009; 12:00 PM ET
Categories:  Crosstabs , Joe Biden , Post Polls  
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"It is not in Joe Biden's DNA to submit to tyranny; I speak with some insight as to how his mind works.

"I don't know this for a fact, but I'm betting that for him, as for me, the events of Nov. 22nd, 1963 left our generation with some unfinished business, a fact that may be lost on the Machiavellians in his midst."

-- From comments section, "Bush Torture Memos OK'ed Radiation Weapons Use..."

Posted by: scrivener50 | July 27, 2009 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Uh....I'm hard pressed to give Joe a grade because I have no idea that he has "done" anything. Yes, I know he travels, and I know he rants constantly about the stimulus (which appears to be filled with the pork he said he would police), but what "performance" metrics should we be looking at? Does he have any actual accomplishments?

The web site has been widely panned and is now getting a multi-million $$ makeover. Does he have any role in insuring the cabinet implements the $100M in savings Obama promised 90 days or so ago? That effort has gone silent, apparently.

If the metric is that he shows up, has some meetings, and looks good in a suit, I will support him.

Posted by: Curmudgeon10 | July 27, 2009 4:35 PM | Report abuse

When asked whether Obama thought Biden had gone too far in his remarks, Gibbs said the president stated his views on Russia during his recent visit and the vice president agrees with those views.

Gibbs said both leaders believe Russia will do its part to improve relations with the U.S.

Most Russian newspapers put Biden's interview on their front pages Monday, with headlines casting doubt on Washington's commitment to forge a more constructive relationship with Moscow.

"Joe Biden unexpectedly returned to the rhetoric of the previous Bush administration," the newspaper Kommersant wrote.

Moskovsky Komsomolets said Biden, with his "boorish openness," showed what the Obama administration really thinks about Russia. "We should respond to the Yankees in the same way," the newspaper wrote. "Any other language, unfortunately or fortunately, they do not understand."

The papers jumped on Biden's comments about Russia's demographic and economic problems.

"They have a shrinking population base, they have a withering economy, they have a banking sector and structure that is not likely to be able to withstand the next 15 years, they're in a situation where the world is changing before them and they're clinging to something in the past that is not sustainable," Biden said in the interview.

Posted by: lucygirl1 | July 27, 2009 4:59 PM | Report abuse

I also wonder how much of a real role Joe Biden has. Some of his recent comments on foreign affairs seem counter to the President's agenda. They seem to come more from Joe Biden the perinnial loose canon with a penchant to talk too much than they do with a Joe Biden playing a key role on the Obama team. If he is playing some kind of reasonably scripted role, it may be all right but it certainly is not clear to me what it is. If he is just expressing frustration and launching new foreign policy initiatives, it certainly is a problem. After reading some of his comments on Russia and Georgia, for the first time I took some of the media concerns about conflicts between the White House and Hillary Clinton a little more seriously.

Posted by: dnjake | July 27, 2009 8:05 PM | Report abuse

Joe Biden has been doing a far better job as VP than I actually expected, and I love the man. I was saddened that Obama would have set him off to the side, consulted him on foreign policy now and again, and have him attend meetings and entertain dignitaries. Well I'm seeing a multi-tasking vice president, who has taken on everything Obama has thrown his way, done an outstanding job, and continues to add to his role as no other VP in our history that I am aware of. From lead on recovery act, middle class task force, green energy, to being handed Iraq (to portfolio), being dispatched to at least 8 different countries and more on the schedule, meeting with foreigh leadership and dignitaries at the WH, presenting outstanding speeches in Munich (security) and Lebanon, then the tough love speech at AIPAC. Of late, Obama placed healthcare reform on Joe's plate. I'm impressed. I don't care if he misspeaks; I like the honesty and integrity of his direct speaking. I like Biden's ability to have no fear, yet remain a bright and affectionate individual. A final point I feel of interest: my spouse, a former Republican turned Indy, loves Biden. As a Dem, I asked why: Honesty/integrity; we have a politician who talks straight-forward and direct, appreciates and supports middle/working class, most unimpeachable Senator, highly ethical, brilliant in foreign policy, able to step into top job, and is Obama's most loyal advisor (trust). I give Joe Biden an A+ because he amazes me daily, and because I love and respect this individual.

Posted by: NBSsacramento | July 28, 2009 3:57 AM | Report abuse

The title of this article is misleading. Where is the evidence that Biden has been effective as a stimulus watchdog? I pleased he wrote the NYT op-ed piece, but that is not evidence of his effectiveness. I want both Biden and the stimulus to succeed, but would like some evidence of either.

Posted by: trep1 | July 28, 2009 9:54 AM | Report abuse

As the only member of the last four administrations to actually tell the truth re. Russia, Biden SHOULD have lots of credibility and the bite to go with it! Everything he said about Russia is more than true. He could easily have gone further--google Russian women for a glimpse of the millions willing to marry strangers just to get out of Russia--but did not. Russia is not America's equal and should not be treated as though they were. The honesty is refreshing.

Posted by: gmundenat | July 28, 2009 11:21 AM | Report abuse

When Biden and Obama are together, they should both be required to wear "I'm with Stupid" t-shirts.

Posted by: Jerzy | July 28, 2009 4:39 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure why truth scares Americans. We were at one time built of stout and sturdy stuff. Russia should grow up, we should grow up, for it is a different world. Biden is most likely the only politician who will tell you the truth. Direct, yes, sans pablum, yes indeed. I am deeply greatful for honesty, as that is how I plan. What has become of the time where we could be told exactly what was going on and we set ourselves accordingly, without running in circles, arms waving overhead, asking government to only feed us soft news and positive outcomes? We just had eight years of the "shhhh...quiet now...don't think...don't nothing...we're in charge, and we'll take care of everything" nonsense. Look at what we allowed happen. Biden tells the truth; he tells it like it is; almost as if considered us adults.

Posted by: NBSsacramento | July 28, 2009 7:21 PM | Report abuse

Has Sen. Chrissy Dodd (D - CT) refinanced his Countrywide loan ?

Posted by: hclark1 | July 29, 2009 5:42 PM | Report abuse

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