Analysis: Many Americans Approve President Obama's Economic Policies

BLAME and ANGER -- Part of Obama's advantage in dealing with the economy is that, while blame and anger are in great supply, he escapes both. Eight in 10 Americans blame the situation on banks and other financial institutions for taking on too much risk; as many blame large business corporations for poor management decisions. Seventy-two percent blame consumers for taking on too much debt; 70 percent blame the Bush administration for lack of needed regulation. Just 26 percent, though, blame the Obama administration. (High-level blame -- "a great deal" -- peaks for the first two, banks and other corporations.)

Anger runs along similar lines. Sixty-eight percent express anger at financial institutions and other corporations for their role in the economic meltdown; 60 percent at the Bush administration. That subsides to 41 percent who express anger at consumers for overextending themselves -- and to just 21 percent who project anger at Obama's administration for the economic situation.

There's ill will in other areas as well: Eighty-one percent express anger about the large bonuses being paid to employees of companies that have accepted government loans, and 74 percent say they're angry about the levels of compensation paid to top corporate executives more broadly.

Notably, much of the public's ire crosses partisan lines. Large corporations are assigned blame for the economy by eight in 10 Democrats, Republicans and independents alike; and resulting anger ranges from nearly two-thirds of Republicans (64 percent) to nearly three-quarters of Democrats (73 percent) -- sizable majorities across the board. And blame and anger directed toward banks and other financial institutions are similarly bipartisan.

Republican and Democratic Differences

BACK TO THE PARTY -- Overall, while the advances on the country's and economy's direction are impressive, so is the level of partisanship -- based at least some extent on Republicans' aversion to deficits and to government intervention in the marketplace.

There are a number of partisan splits as impressive as those noted above. Nearly all Democrats, 94 percent, express at least some confidence in Obama's recovery plan; that falls to 28 percent of Republicans. Seventy-one percent of Democrats approve of the federal government's response overall, up a remarkable 49 points since December; that falls to 23 percent of Republicans, essentially unchanged. And while 93 percent in his own party see Obama as a new-style Democrats, just 26 percent of Republicans agree.

Some such differences, as noted, are substantive ones. Sixty-seven percent of Democrats favor deficit spending to try to stimulate the economy; exactly as many Republicans oppose it. And on this basic question, independents, the fulcrum of national politics, divide right down the middle.

Better for Obama is that most independents are with him as he grapples with the economy. The challenge is that these less-partisan Americans are most apt to base their judgment not on politics, but on performance.

METHODOLOGY -- This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by telephone March 26-29, 2009, among a random national sample of 1,000 adults including both landline and cell-phone-only respondents. Results for the full sample have a 3-point error margin; click here for a detailed description of sampling error. Sampling, data collection and tabulation by TNS of Horsham, PA.

Click here for PDF with charts and questionnaire.

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