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Friday, May 20, 2005

It’s the Economy Stupid (and Iraq Too)

There is very little good news in this survey report released today by The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press:

Economy, Iraq Weighing Down Bush Popularity - Country Losing Ground on Most National Problems: Americans are critical of President Bush's job performance in many policy areas, but negative opinions of his handling of the economy and Iraq are doing the most damage to his overall approval rating … There has been greater stability in Bush's marks on energy policy and Social Security, but he gets positive ratings of only about 30% on both issues (energy policy 31%, Social Security 29%). … Bush gets positive marks from a majority of the public on just one issue ­ his handling of terrorist threats. …

An analysis of opinions on Bush's job performance shows that views of his handling of the economy are now the biggest factor influencing his overall rating, with Iraq nearly as important. … Negative opinions of Bush's handling of Social Security outnumber positive ones by about a two-to-one margin (59%-29%), but this issue does not heavily influence Bush's overall job rating. However, Bush's association with a plan to limit the growth of Social Security benefits appears to undermine support for the concept. Most Americans say they would support limiting the growth of benefits for wealthy and middle-income retirees, while keeping the current system intact for lower-income people. But support is significantly lower when the proposal is explicitly associated with Bush. … While partisanship is a large factor, Bush also faces problems on Social Security policy among political independents. Support among independents … drops … when the proposal is attributed to the president.

Meanwhile, public support for adding private accounts to Social Security, which declined over the winter, has largely stabilized over the past three months. Since February, there has consistently been a slim plurality (currently 47%) in favor of the idea of allowing younger workers to invest a portion of their Social Security taxes in private retirement accounts, though nearly as many (40%) are opposed. Bush's endorsement of this proposal is not mentioned in this survey question.

On many key issues, from the budget deficit and Social Security to education and illegal drugs, more Americans think the country is losing ground than say it is making progress or holding its own. … Perceptions that the nation is losing ground in health care have grown sharply over the past decade or so. ... Opinions on the availability of good-paying jobs, which improved considerably from 1997-2001, have declined in recent years. … Not surprisingly, perceptions of the budget deficit have worsened considerably … Democrats are decidedly more negative than Republicans in their perceptions of how the country is doing on most of these issues, with the biggest gaps over the availability of good-paying jobs and environmental pollution. … On immigration, the partisan pattern is reversed; more Republicans than Democrats believe the country is losing ground on immigration …

    Posted by on Friday, May 20, 2005 at 01:35 AM in Economics, Politics, Social Security | Permalink  TrackBack (0)  Comments (0)


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