Opinion: New Obama polls: Nice guy but -- <em>Wow!</em> -- what a spender!


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Almost five months -- or 10% -- of the way through his first term, Americans still pretty much like the new guy. Though a little bit less than in April.

But a fresh batch of new polls is delivering some warning signs to the White House that has so ambitiously taken on so many challenges, all of them allegedly by necessity and inherited from eight years of you-know-what by you-know-who.


Not that any presidential administration would ever allow polls to shape what it does or says.

But look for President Obama (and VP Joe Biden, when he’s not in private meetings) to start talking a whole lot more about the dangers of the exploding federal deficit and their professed efforts to tame it, as long as that doesn’t involve scaling back their expansive favored spending plans.

According to the new Wall Street Journal/NBC poll, 56% of Americans still approve of the president, though that’s down from 61%.

But 58% say they think the Democratic president and Democrat-controlled Congress should really focus on holding the deficit down, even if that means economic recovery will take a little longer. Alarmed at the scale of spending was one description.

That ain’t gonna happen on Capitol Hill after Democrats endured two Republican presidential terms in the political wilderness. So watch the trend in this key question in future polls.

The latest deficit projections have more digits than most non-federal calculators can display -- $1,800,000,000,000.

A minority -- 37% -- think the Great Change Agent is taking on too much. But fully 70% have concerns over federal intervention in the economy, especially the automobile industry. A CBS / New York Times poll found Obama’s approval still at 63%, but less than half approved of his handling of healthcare reform and the automotive financial situation.


The CBS poll found that since March those who want the federal government to do more about the economy has dropped from 41% to 34%, while those fearing the feds were now doing too much jumped from 51% to 56%.

Nearly half (48%) professed to see no impact yet from the administration’s economic recovery steps, which would help explain Biden’s three-state, two-day trip last week to break ground on road projects for the cameras.

And as the months roll by, the results, added together, indicate the clock is running out on Obama’s ability to blame the last administration for all ills; the sense of his ownership of the nation’s problems appears to be growing in the American mind.

While the leaderless Republican Party remains a political non-factor at this point (barely a quarter in either poll approve of the GOP), frequent recent Obama critic and former VP Dick Cheney saw a bump in his approval from 18% to 26% since his speech on national security.

But Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California came off horribly; after her very vocal, very public argument with the Central Intelligence Agency over what she knew and when about surfboarding or something.

Her unfavorable rating now stands at 46%, her worst ever, with only 24% thinking positively about the Bay Area Democratic House leader. This means we’re less likely to see her front-and-center in future presidential photo ops or driveway media avails.


It also means -- are you sitting down? -- departed Republican scold Dick Cheney is now more popular among Americans than Nancy Pelosi. Do ya think Rush Limbaugh might mention that?

-- Andrew Malcolm

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