Americans want Obama to focus more on jobs, poll finds
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Americans by a large majority believe President Barack Obama has not focused enough on job creation, as economic fears threaten Democrats ahead of November 2 elections, a Reuters-Ipsos poll found on Tuesday.
In a sign of trouble ahead for the ruling Democrats, the poll found evidence of a sizable enthusiasm gap with Republicans more energized about voting in the congressional elections.
Americans expressed deep unhappiness with the direction of the economy, which they identified overwhelmingly as the country's top problem. The U.S. jobless rate is at a stubbornly high 9.5 percent.
People were more negative about Obama's performance on the economy than on any other question surveyed and satisfaction was dropping more sharply on the issue from past surveys.
Only 34 percent approved of Obama's handling of the economy and jobs compared to 46 percent who deemed it unsatisfactory. This is a sharp decline from early 2009 shortly after he took office when over a half of those surveyed approved of Obama's handling of the worst financial crisis in decades.
"People still feel insecure about their future," said Ipsos pollster Cliff Young. "They are spending less and saving more. They're not buying a larger house or car or other luxuries because they're worried and that worry also manifests itself on the political side."
U.S. presidents often lose support at midterm elections and the Republicans are hoping to win control of the House of Representatives in November and pick up seats in the Senate. That could prevent Obama from winning any more major successes in Congress like this year's healthcare and Wall Street reforms.
The poll provided evidence that Americans are unhappy that Obama and the Democrats chose to devote their energies to overhauling the U.S. healthcare system and financial regulations instead of dwelling exclusively on job creation.
It said 67 percent think Obama has not focused enough on job creation compared to healthcare and regulation of banks. Obama has argued that both healthcare and financial regulation are vital building blocks to a strong economic recovery.
"They think he should've focused much more on the economy rather than healthcare and financial regulation," said pollster Young. "From a voter perspective, they don't see the economy improving. They don't think the administration has given due attention to that problem."
The poll was dismal news for Democrats as they seek to hold off Republicans in November elections in which Americans will elect 435 members of the House of Representatives and 37 of the 100-seat U.S. Senate.
Republicans hold a 46-44 percent lead over Democrats when participants were asked which party they planned to support in November. And 72 percent of Republicans said they are certain to vote on November 2, compared to 49 percent of Democrats.
"Republicans are charged up because they think they have a chance," said Young.
The economy is still recovering too slowly to improve Obama's political fortunes. U.S. consumer confidence sank in July to its lowest since February.
Overall, the July 22-25 national poll of 1,075 adults gave Obama an approval rating of 48 percent, a small decline from a June survey that had him at 50 percent approval.
This is in line with other polls showing his approval rating under 50 percent and evidence that for all the country's problems, Obama remains generally well-liked.
Not all was dire for Obama, however, as 52 percent of independent voters approved of his job performance. Independents are closely watched because they often make the difference in close elections.
The poll had a margin of error of 3 percentage points. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish and the data were weighted to ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the actual U.S. population according to U.S. Census figures.
(Editing by David Storey)
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