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June 24th, 2010
Confidence Waning in Obama, U.S. Outlook

The survey also shows grave and growing concerns about the Gulf oil spill, with overwhelming majorities of adults favoring stronger regulation of the oil industry and believing that the spill will affect the nation's economy and environment.

Sixty-two percent of adults in the survey feel the country is on the wrong track, the highest level since before the 2008 election. Just one-third think the economy will get better over the next year, a 7-point drop from a month ago and the low point of Mr. Obama's tenure.

Amid anxiety over the nation's course, support for Mr. Obama and other incumbents is eroding. For the first time, more people disapprove of Mr. Obama's job performance than approve. And 57% of voters would prefer to elect a new person to Congress than re-elect their local representatives, the highest share in 18 years.

The results show "a really ugly mood and an unhappy electorate," said Democratic pollster Peter Hart, who conducts the Journal/NBC poll with GOP pollster Bill McInturff. "The voters, I think, are just looking for change, and that means bad news for incumbents and in particular for the Democrats."

Some 30% in the poll said they "do not really relate'' to Mr. Obama. Only 8% said that at the beginning of his presidency. Fewer than half give him positive marks when asked if he is "honest and straightforward.'' And 49% rate him positively when asked if he has "strong leadership qualities,'' down from 70% when Mr. Obama took office and a drop of 8 points since January.

Just 40% rate him positively on his "ability to handle a crisis," an 11-point drop since January. Half disapprove of Mr. Obama's handling of the oil spill, including one in four Democrats.  44% of Obama voters—those who voted for Mr. Obama in 2008 or told pollsters they intended to—now express high interest in the midterm elections. That's a 38-point drop from this stage in the 2008 campaign.

By contrast, 71% of voters who supported Republican John McCain in 2008 expressed high interest in this year's elections, slightly higher than their interest level at this stage in that campaign.

The gap helps explain why the Democratic National Committee is spending $50 million on a campaign to try to lure Obama voters back to the polls this year.


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