ABC News Poll: Two-Thirds Back Financial Reform; The Question: How Far to Go

Obama himself does less well in the center; his handling of financial regulation gets just 46 percent approval from independents, although he does somewhat better, 55 percent, among moderates. Both figures are well below the levels of support in these groups for regulation in principle, apparently reflecting some disquiet not with the concept, but with Obama's approach. As noted, Obama's approval on the issue is 14 points higher among those who favor "much" stricter regulation vs. those who say it should be just somewhat stricter.

WALL STREET – This poll does not replicate a Gallup result last week in which regulating "Wall Street" was somewhat more popular than regulating "large banks and major financial institutions" (the former won 50-36 percent support, the latter, 46-43 percent). As asked in this poll, reform won nearly two-thirds support regardless of whether it was reform of "Wall Street firms" or of "banks and other financial institutions."

Gallup found lower support overall, in both cases. Its question referred to "Congress passing a law" giving the federal government "new powers." The ABC/Post question does not mention Congress, which is very unpopular, and asks about "stricter regulations," which apparently are preferable to "new powers." Regardless of the phrase "Wall Street," the difference underscores that in these debates, language can matter.

METHODOLOGY – This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by telephone April 22-25, 2010, among a random national sample of 1,001 adults, including landline and cell-phone-only respondents. Results for the full sample have a 3.5-point error margin. Click here for a detailed description of sampling error. Sampling, data collection and tabulation by TNS of Horsham, PA.

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