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Poll Watch

Laura Meckler writes for the Wall Street Journal: "President Barack Obama enjoys widespread backing from a frightened American public for his ambitious, front-loaded agenda, a new poll indicates.

"He is more popular than ever, Americans are hopeful about his leadership, and opposition Republicans are getting drubbed in public opinion, the new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll suggests.

"But there are also early warning signs showing risks if his plans don't show progress. The president's support, while still deep, looks increasingly partisan as Republicans move away from him. Americans have more confidence in the president himself than in some of his initiatives, such as the economic stimulus package, and have some hesitation about his plans to raise taxes to expand health coverage."

Most remarkably: "The poll found a sharp jump in the proportion of Americans who say the nation is 'generally headed in the right direction' since Mr. Obama's January inauguration, a period when economic indicators and financial markets have suggested the opposite. The survey shows that 41% of Americans say the country is headed in the right direction, up dramatically from 26% in mid-January, before Mr. Obama took office, and up from 12% before the election.

"The number who say the country is on the 'wrong track' is still higher at 44%, but given the economic conditions, pollsters expected it to be much higher."

Mark Murray reports for NBC News: "'What is amazing here is how much political capital Obama has spent in the first six weeks,' said Democratic pollster Peter D. Hart, who conducted this survey with Republican pollster Bill McInturff. 'And against that, he stands at the end of this six weeks with as much or more capital in the bank.'

"By comparison, the Republican Party — which resisted Obama's recently passed stimulus plan and has criticized the spending in his budget — finds its favorability at an all-time low. It also receives most of the blame for the current partisanship in Washington and trails the Democrats by nearly 30 percentage points on the question of which party could best lead the nation out of recession.....

"According to the poll, part of the reason why Obama's numbers remain high despite these economic concerns is that the public doesn't blame the president for the current state of the economy. Eighty-four percent say this is an economy Obama inherited, and two-thirds of those people think he has at least a year before he's responsible for it."

Or maybe two years? A new poll from Quinnipiac finds: "American voters don't believe either President Barack Obama or 'the federal government' will solve the nation's economic crisis in two years, but they still approve 59 - 25 percent of the job their new President is doing, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released today.

"While most voters support President Obama's $75 billion mortgage rescue plan, they say 64 - 29 percent that the plan is unfair to those who pay their mortgage on time. But they believe 55 - 37 percent that the plan will stabilize home prices as the White House contends."

By Dan Froomkin  |  March 4, 2009; 12:27 PM ET
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