Obama gets high marks in polls


Approaching his 100th day in the White House at a time of economic turmoil, President Obama holds the approval of nearly two-thirds of Americans surveyed for the job that he is performing – and seven in 10 say they like Obama, the man.

Most say they approve of the president’s overall handling of the economy, while the effects of his policies remain uncertain.

Obama’s job approval as president stands at 63% in a poll released this morning by the Washington-based Pew Research Center – with just 26% saying they disapprove of the way he is handling his job.


The president draws a similar rating, 64%, in a new poll conducted by the Associated Press and GfK Roper Public Affairs and Media. That survey also finds, for the first time in five years, more Americans saying the nation is headed in the right direction than those who say it is not.

The president’s job approval also stands at 64% in the latest Gallup Poll daily tracking survey.

In a reversal of the way that voters traditionally view leaders of the two major political parties, the Democratic president draws better ratings in the Pew survey for his handling of foreign policy and terrorism than for his handling of domestic issues, such as health care, taxes or the budget deficit.

Nevertheless, 60% of those surveyed by Pew say they approve of Obama’s overall handling of the economy.

First Lady Michelle Obama is having a honeymoon of her own with the public, with 76% of those surveyed voicing a favorable view of her – up from 62% in January, when the Obamas moved into the White House.

This is particularly true among Republican women, whose opinion of the first lady has grown by 21 points since January, to 67% approval in the newest survey. Among Republicans in general, the first lady holds the approval of 60%.

The Pew poll, like others, reveals a wide disparity between Democrats and Republicans in the way they rate the new president’s performance – with 93% of Democrats surveyed voicing approval and just 30% of Republicans agreeing.

The Pew survey of 1,507 adults was conducted April 14-21 and carries a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. The AP-GfK poll survey of 1,000 adults was run April 16-20, with a 3.1% margin of error.

Among those surveyed by AP-GfK, 48% said the country is headed in the right direction, up from 40% in February. And 40% still said the nation is headed in the wrong direction. Not since January 2004 has an AP survey found more “right direction’’ sentiment than “wrong direction’’ concern.

For a president whose Republican rival, Sen. John McCain, presented himself as a more seasoned expert on foreign affairs, the Democrat has gained respect at home for his work on the foreign stage. Most Americans surveyed by Pew, 57%, said Obama is striking the right balance in pressing American interests while taking into the account the interests of U.S. allies.

The public also is taking a more positive view of Obama’s decision to close the U.S. military-run detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba – with 51% approving – than it did when the president announced his intention to close the facility within a year in January, when 38% approved.

The president, who traveled across Europe and to Baghdad earlier this month, draws strong approval for his overall handling of foreign policy in the Pew survey – 61%.

Although 60% approve of Obama’s overall handling of the economy, Pew found, most also say that it is too early to tell whether the president’s economic policies have had an effect. Just 26% said his policies have made conditions better.

Most support the extent of the agenda that Obama is tackling early in his presidency, with 56% saying he is handling things right and 34% say he is taking on too much.

The president’s campaign promise of change and his pledge to set a new tone in Washington are still resonating with most Americans, the Pew poll suggests, with 63% of those surveyed saying that Obama has demonstrated a new approach to politics and just 27% calling his approach business as usual.

However, among the younger voters surveyed, that enthusiasm apparently has waned somewhat, with 61% of those under 30 saying the president brings a new approach to politics, down from 73% in February.

While the president has held the public’s approval after three months in office, Vice President Joe Biden has lost some support.

About half of those surveyed by Pew, 51%, said they have a favorable view of Biden – down 12 percentage points from January. It is largely among Democrats and independents that Biden’s standing has slipped, Pew found, with Republicans holding roughly steady in their views of the vice president.