It comes from the NY Times, so I am suspicious, but on the other hand, the American public overwhelmingly elected Barack Obama.
With Election Day just over a year away, a deep sense of economic anxiety and doubt about the future hangs over the nation, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll, with Americans’ distrust of government at its highest level ever.
The combustible climate helps explain the volatility of the presidential race and has provided an opening for protest movements like Occupy Wall Street, to highlight grievances about banks, income inequality and a sense that the poor and middle class have been disenfranchised.
Almost half of the public thinks the sentiment at the root of the Occupy movement generally reflects the views of most Americans.
With nearly all Americans remaining fearful that the economy is stagnating or deteriorating further, two-thirds of the public said that wealth should be distributed more evenly in the country. Seven in 10 Americans think the policies of Congressional Republicans favor the rich. Two-thirds object to tax cuts for corporations and a similar number prefer increasing income taxes on millionaires.
On Tuesday, the Congressional Budget Office released a new study concluding that income distribution had become much more uneven in the last three decades, a report that could figure prominently in the battle over how to revive the economy and rein in the federal debt.
The poll findings underscore a dissatisfaction and restlessness heading into the election season that has been highlighted through competing voices from the Occupy Wall Street and Tea Party movements, a broad anti-Washington sentiment and the crosscurrents inside both parties about the best way forward.
Not only do 89 percent of Americans say they distrust government to do the right thing, but 74 percent say the country is on the wrong track and 84 percent disapprove of Congress — warnings for Democrats and Republicans alike.
The approval rating for Mr. Obama, 46 percent, appears to be elevated by positions he has taken on foreign affairs. Sixty percent of those questioned said they approve of his handling of Iraq, a question added to the poll after his announcement last Friday that American troops would come home by the end of the year.
But the president, whose disapproval rating is also 46 percent, also faces mixed signals from the public about his latest job-creation proposals. While the poll found substantial support for the plan’s individual components, more than half of the public say he lacks a clear plan for creating jobs, despite his extensive travels around the country over the last six weeks selling his proposals.
With the nation’s unemployment rate at 9.1 percent, income inequality remains a palpable issue for Americans. Nearly 9 in 10 Democrats, two-thirds of independents and just over one-third of all Republicans say that the distribution of wealth in the country should be more equitable, even as a majority of Republicans said they think it is fair.
“I don’t want to blanket the whole government that way, but it’s getting scary,” said Jo Waters, 87, a Democrat and a retired hospital administrator from Pleasanton, Calif., speaking in a follow-up telephone interview. “Everything is for the wealthy. This used to be a lovely country, but everything is sliding.”
Only about a quarter of the public said that lowering taxes on large corporations or repealing the entire national health care law was a good idea. But half of the public favors reducing or repealing regulations on businesses in the United States.
A remarkable sense of pessimism and skepticism was apparent in question after question in the survey, which found that Congressional approval has reached a new low at 9 percent. The disapproval toward Congress has risen 22 percentage points since the beginning of the year when Republicans took control of the House.
In February, a CBS News poll found that 27 percent of the public said the views of the Tea Party movement reflected the sentiment of most Americans. In the current poll, 46 percent of the public said the same of the Occupy Wall Street movement. “They do reflect the discontent of most Americans,” said Sheila Shriver, 69, a retired special education teacher and independent voter from Columbus, Ohio. “People are unhappy with the way the country seems to be moving, especially when it comes to lack of jobs. Washington hasn’t even been concerned about that.”
Obama will win reelection by dividing us further. But here’s the rub, guys. He couldn’t do that if the American public bothered to be informed. We are too lazy to care.