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Poll finds Obama more popular than his stimulus package

  • Story Highlights
  • 76 percent of Americans in poll approve of job Barack Obama is doing as president
  • Just 54 percent support the economic stimulus plan Obama is pushing
  • Three fourths of Democrats support the bill, but just 32 percent of Republicans
  • Poll gives Obama better grade on cooperation than it gives GOP lawmakers
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By Paul Steinhauser
CNN Deputy Political Director
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A new national poll suggests that three out of four Americans approve of the job Barack Obama is doing as president, but the economic stimulus package he's trying to push through Congress is not nearly as popular.

President Obama listens to a question at a town hall meeting in Elkhart, Indiana, on Monday.

President Obama listens to a question at a town hall meeting in Elkhart, Indiana, on Monday.

Seventy-six percent of those questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey released Monday gave Obama a thumbs-up on how he's performing his duties, while 23 percent disapproved.

As the poll was released, Obama was on the road, in Elkhart, Indiana, to help promote his plan to jump-start the economy. Later in the day he's holding a prime-time news conference from the White House to pitch the plan.

While the president puts on a full-court press, the debate over the $800 billion-plus bill -- which includes increased government spending and tax cuts -- appears to have split the public. A slight majority, 54 percent, favors the bill; 45 percent are opposed.

And there's a partisan divide. Three out of four Democrats support the bill, but that number drops to 51 percent for Independents and just 32 percent for Republicans. Nearly seven in 10 Republicans questioned in the survey oppose the bill.

"Partisanship is alive and well, not just in the House and Senate, but in the rank and file as well," said CNN polling director Keating Holland. "The partisan split that has been a staple of American public opinion for decades is alive and well."

An $819 billion version of the stimulus bill passed the House of Representatives two weeks ago, with no Republican support. The Senate is expected to vote Tuesday on a different version of the bill, which would include more tax cuts and less government spending. Democrats support the bill, while all but three Republican senators appear to oppose the legislation.

Sixty-four percent of those polled said the current bill being debated in the Senate would help the economy a lot or somewhat, while 36 percent felt that the package would not help the economy much or at all.

"The public may be lukewarm on the stimulus package because they only see limited benefits from it," Holland said. "Sixteen percent say it would help the economy a lot, but 48 percent foresee only some improvements if the bill passes."

Many Republican lawmakers argue that the bill is too expensive. It appears that argument may be working with Americans. Fifty-five percent of those questioned felt the price tag for the stimulus plan is too big, while three in 10 said the bill would spend the right amount of money and 13 percent felt not enough money is in the legislation.

The survey indicates, however, that Obama and the Democrats in Congress do have some advantages in this political battle over the stimulus. Three out of four poll respondents said that Obama is doing enough to cooperate with Republicans in Congress, but only 39 percent feel that congressional Republicans are cooperating enough with the president.

Six out of 10 approved of the way Democratic leaders in Congress are handling their jobs. But only 44 percent of those questioned approved of the way Republican leaders in Congress are performing. Overall, only 29 percent said they like the way Congress is handling its job, with 71 percent disapproving.

That's far below Obama's 76 percent approval rating, which is higher than other recent national surveys by other organizations.

"Other polls have shown Obama's approval rating in the mid to high 60s, but those polls also have 10 to 20 percent saying that they don't have an opinion on Obama. We have only 1 percent saying that they are undecided about Obama," Holland said. Can Obama fix the economy?

Ninety-seven percent of Democrats approve of the way Obama is handling his duties as president, the CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll found. That drops to 76 percent for Independents and 50 percent for Republicans.

The survey was conducted Saturday and Sunday, with 806 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points for the overall sample and plus or minus 6.5 percentage points for the breakdowns by party preference.

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