Poll: 51 Percent Disapprove of Obama’s Job Performance, 43 Percent Approve

The
latest Reason-Rupe national poll
finds president Obama’s
approval underwater with 43 percent who approve and 51 who
disapprove of his job performance. Specifically regarding the
president’s handling of the situation in Ukraine, approval slides
six points to 37 percent, while 40 percent disapprove and 21
percent don’t know enough to say.


COMPLETE POLL RESULTS

Presidential approval continued to slide throughout 2013
particularly in the wake of IRS political targeting, NSA
surveillance revelations, and the inauspicious launch of the
Affordable Care Act’s federal health insurance exchange website.
However, since December of 2013, attitudes have remained
steady
 through the spring.

A particularly noticeable slide in presidential approval has
occurred since 2013 among millennials (young Americans 18-29) a
crucial Obama constituency. Last spring 62% of
millennials approved of
President Obama’s job performance, a similar share who voted to
reelect him in 2012. However, approval has slid 11 points to 51
percent today among millennials.

Continuing a long-term trend that began in the middle of the
Bush administration, 60 percent of Americans say the country is
heading in the wrong direction, while 30 percent say the right
direction. Briefly in 2009 when President Obama first took office,
he assuaged concerns of the country’s trajectory. However, concerns
quickly ricochet back to levels found during the Bush
administration.

Congressional approval remains dismal with 17 percent who
approve and 74 percent disapprove. These low numbers can be
explained in part by the fact that Americans think an overwhelming
share of their elected officials use their power to hurt their
enemies and help their friends and are corrupted by special
interests.

Nationwide telephone poll conducted March 26-30 2014
interviewed 1003 adults on both mobile (503) and landline (500)
phones, with a margin of error +/- 3.6%. Princeton Survey Research
Associates International executed the nationwide Reason-Rupe
survey. Columns may not add up to 100% due to rounding. Full
poll results, detailed tables, and methodology found here. Sign
up for notifications of new releases of the
Reason-Rupe poll here

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Poll: Even If Russia Invades Deeper Into Ukraine, 76 Percent of Americans Oppose Sending US Troops

Tensions have been high between Ukraine and
Russia since the latter annexed Crimea and has been flexing
military muscle along the countries’ shared border. The U.S. has
asserted itself in the crisis, and a new Reason-Rupe poll finds
that a 40 percent plurality of Americans do not approve of the way
President Obama is handling the situation. Thirty-seven percent do
approve of his handling. A large number of Americans,
21 percent said they did not know.

Libertarians may take heart that 58 percent of the 1,003
respondents said they do not want America to be involved in the
crisis whatsoever–not economic sanctions, not military action. This
may be indicative of wariness about adding a new chapter to
America’s legacy of international entanglements. 

Thirty-one percent think the U.S. should continue imposing
economic sanctions on Russia, which has been the Obama
administration’s preferred tactic thus far. There has been debate
about the effectiveness of sanctions. The BBC has noted that
“sanctions are only partially successful about one-third of the
time.” Either way, Russia is causing its own economy some
suffering: The high price tag of staging an invasion did
no favors
for the already weak rouble. 

Only eight percent of respondents considered sending military
troops and assets to be the right course of action for America.,
seems particularly significant given recent developments. The Navy
has already sent one destroyer ship to the Black Sea and Vice
President Joe Biden has suggested further military exercises may
take place in the Baltic. NATO, of which the U.S. is
the largest supplier of both military personnel and
funding, sounded
the alarm
this week that the build-up of 40,000 Russian troops
along Ukraine’s border could mean an invasion in as little as three
days. 

Some Republicans have
criticized
Obama, suggesting that America has to take a
harder line lest Vladmir Putin take further action. But, when
asked, “If Russia attempts to invade additional parts of Ukraine,
would you favor or oppose [sending US troops to Ukraine]?”
non-interventionist sentiments remained high. Sixty-two percent of
people polled would still be opposed to sending military aid and
weapons. Though, when asked a similar question about stricter
sanctions, 61 percent said they would approve.

Reason-Rupe also asked people to compare Obama’s ability to
manage foreign policy to former President George W. Bush’s, and
responses were mixed. Thirty-five percent believe that Obama is
better, 32 percent believe he’s worse, and 31 percent say the two
presidents are about the same. These numbers reinforce an image
that Obama has tried to fight against–that his administration’s
doctrine is, if not merely extension of his predecessor’s, still
equally ineffective. However, President Obama fared
slightly better
in his comparison with President Bush than he
did when Reason-Rupe asked the question in September 2013 during
the Syria crisis.

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43 Percent of Americans Say They’ll Blame Obamacare for Health Care Premium Increases or Plan Changes Next Year

Yesterday I
argued
that with Obamacare, Democrats have tied their political
futures not only to the success of the health law, but to the
broader American health system—and, consequently, to whatever cost
and access problems it has. A Reason-Rupe poll released this
morning supports this argument, finding that more Americans would
blame the health care law than any other source for insurance plan
changes or premium increases next year.
From the poll
:

If your health care plan changes, or if your insurance premiums
increase in the next year, do you think you’ll blame…

• The federal health care law……………. 43%

• The health insurance company………… 26%

• The economy…………………………………. 17%

• Your employer………………………………… 5%

• Other (VOL.) …………………………………… 4%

• Don’t Know……………………………………… 4%

• Refused…………………………………………..
1%

• Total……………………………………………
100%

Is this perfectly fair? Probably in some cases. In others,
though, premium increases won’t be directly or fully attributable
to the health law.

But that’s the point I was trying to make. The details almost
don’t matter, because with Obamacare, Democrats have essentially
taken ownership of the American health system. So while I’m sure
they’d like to take credit for all the bits that people like, and
avoid blame for parts that people don’t, that’s not going to be the
reality. They will get credit for some of the health law’s benefits
and other things people like, but they will also end up with a lot
of the blame for things that people see as problems.

At the same time, the law has blunted the effectiveness of their
usual response. Over the years, Democrats have tended to blame
health insurers for premium increases and plan problems, but that
approach won’t work as well as it used to, because Americans now
view Obamacare—and, it’s probably safe to assume, the party that
passed it—as having a bigger influence on their premiums and plan
choices than the insurers. 

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Sheldon Richman on Iran’s Nuclear Secrecy

For years we’ve heard the steady drumbeat
of news stories about Iran’s secret nuclear plans. What possible
reason could Iran have had for working in secrecy? Simply put,
writes Sheldon Richman, from the 1980s onward the U.S.
government was determined to thwart Iran’s efforts to build even
modest a civilian nuclear program. Why? Iran was regarded as an
enemy of America because its 1979 Islamic revolution had overthrown
a loyal U.S. client, the repressive shah of Iran, whom the CIA had
undemocratically restored to power a quarter century earlier.

View this article.

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Goldman Expects 3% S&P 500 Upside In Coming Year

From Goldman’s David Kostin, who first looks back: “S&P 500 began 2014 with a pullback of 6%, repeating its 2013 trend, but then rallied 8% to reach a new high of 1885. The market has not had a drawdown of 10% since the summer of 2012, rallying nearly 50% during that time. Gold and bonds have outperformed stocks YTD” and then forward: “S&P 500 rises 2% in 1Q to hit new high; we expect 3% appreciation during next 12 months” In other words, by the end of this week the Market should hit Goldman’s 12 month forward price target.

So far so good, it’s all driven by corporate profitability, the permabull pundits will say (barring the occasional snowfall in the winter). However, there is a problem: based on a Goldman calculation of implied 5-year EPS growth rates for the S&P based on a senstivity for the Equity Risk Premium, for which Goldman uses the range of 2% to 4%, and finds a range of -2% to -9% for the EPS growth rate in the next half decade. Surely enough to send the S&P to 1900 today .


    



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The Missing Airplane: 35% of Americans Blame Mechanical Problems; 22% Say Suicide; 12% Think It’s Terrorism; 9% Believe Flight 370 Is Hiding

CNN and other outlets have aired some
pretty strange speculations
 about the fate of Flight 370,
prompting a lot of complaints from media critics. But how
popular are those theories with the general public? The latest
Reason-Rupe pol asked Americans what they think happened to the
missing plane. Here are the results:

We forgot to mention the "gremlin on the wing" option.Which of the following do you
think most likely happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight
370?

• It crashed due to mechanical problems: 35 percent
• It was crashed intentionally by the pilots: 22 percent
• It was destroyed by terrorists: 12 percent
• It landed safely and is in hiding: 9 percent
• It’s linked to supernatural or alien activity: 5
percent
• It was shot down by a foreign government: 3 percent
• Other: 4 percent
• Don’t know: 9 percent
• Refused to answer: 1 percent

Some thoughts:

1. Broadly speaking, “conspiracy”
narratives
seem to be popular. The answer invoking terrorists
is clearly a conspiracy story, and the answers involving a
deliberate crash, a foreign government, a plane in hiding, and
supernatural or alien intervention can at least conceivably involve
conspiracies too.

2. That said: Of the options offered, it’s the one
clearly non-conspiratorial story that got a plurality
of the support.

3. A certain number of respondents, presented with an option
like “It’s linked to supernatural or alien activity,” are going to
select that just to screw with the results. I don’t know how big
that phenomenon—call it the Troll Effect—might be, but having gone
through the answers that were volunteered by the folks who picked
“Other,” it’s clear that there’s at least a few people out
there who are messing with us. One person said “All of the
Above.”

Who wants pie?

4. Whatever Americans may believe about what happened to the
plane, most of us have kept our heads when it comes to letting this
rare event affect our risk assessment. Here’s one more question
from the survey:

Would you say the events surrounding Malaysia
Airlines Flight 370 make you more likely to fly, less likely, or
doesn’t it have much effect on whether or not you will
fly?

• More likely: 1 percent
• Less likely: 17 percent
• Not much effect: 81 percent

For further thoughts, see my article “The
Flight 370 Conspiracy Stories Aren’t About to Stop
.” For more
on conspiracy theories in general, see my book The United States
of Paranoia
.

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Farage Beats Clegg in Second Debate on U.K.—E.U. Relationship

Last
night Nick Clegg, British deputy prime minister and leader of the
Liberal Democrats, and Nigel Farage, the leader of the United
Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) faced each other in the second
and final scheduled debate on the U.K.’s membership in the European
Union (E.U.).

According to polling,
Farage was the clear winner of last night’s debate. Farage managed
to present a case for British withdrawal from the E.U. by saying
(among other things) that immigration helps the rich but hurts
British natives and that the U.K. would be capable of making trade
agreements with countries if it were not in the E.U. Farage also
cast the status quo as unfair, emphasizing the undemocratic nature
of the E.U. and the fact that the British people have not been
offered a referendum on the U.K.’s relationship with Europe since
1975, when the British people voted to joined what was then called
the European Economic Community. 

Clegg, who was more forceful than he was in the first debate,
made sure to highlight Farage’s
controversial comments on Russian President Vladimir Putin
and
one piece of bizarre UKIP literature featuring a native American
which features the words: “He used to ignore immigration…now he
lives on a reservation.”

Clegg may be wondering why he agreed to these debates in the
first place. Farage is the head of a party which has no seats in
the House of Commons, has no hope of securing a majority in the
next general election, and cannot force a British referendum on
E.U. membership.

Farage will be particularly pleased by YouGov’s
polling
on the most recent debate:

It is clear that Farage gained ground most among the very people
LEAST likely to support his party or his cause:

  • The proportion of Labour supporters saying Farage performed
    better rose from 42% after the first debate to 57% after the
    second

  • Among Liberal Democrats, Farage’s figures are: first debate 20%,
    second debate 33%

  • Among people who told us ahead of the debate that they supported
    British membership of the EU, his figures are: first debate 30%,
    second debate 45%

Some members of the Conservative Party, which contains some
Euroskeptics, are worried that UKIP could take away votes in the
next general election. However, Prime Minister David Cameron, the
leader of the Conservative Party, could end UKIP tomorrow. All he
would have to do is work to secure a referendum on E.U. membership
to be held before the end of the current parliament.

Watch last night’s debate below:

Martin Durkin, a self described “wicked, middle-aged
libertarian,” spent six months with Farage and had the experience
filmed. Watch below:

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Draghi QE “Reflection” Drops Euro, Pops Bonds/Stocks

Despite Draghi’s explanation that a QE program in Europe (due to the greater extent of bank lending vs capital market financing) would not be “as efficient” as the Fed’s program, his comment that:

  • *DRAGHI SAYS COUNCIL WILL REFLECT HARD ON DESIGN OF QE

Has provided just enough “hope” juice to drive the EUR lower and ramp bond and stock prices across Europe (for now). We will have to see what the half-life of this jawboning is.

EUR slides…

 

Bonds rip tighter in spreads…

 

and Stocks pop…

 

Amazing… just so much “faith” that they know what they are doing…


    



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Q1 GDP To Tumble As Trade Deficit Surges Most Since September

So much for those already abysmally low Q1 GDP forecasts. Moments ago, the Census Bureau released trade data for February which crushed expectations of an improvement from $39.1 billion (revised to $39.3 billion) to $38.5 billion, and instead rose 7.7% to $42.3 billion, the highest monthly trade deficit since September. This was driven by a 0.4% increase in imports to to $231.7 billion offset by a drop in exports of 1.1%  to $192.5 billion. The goods deficit increased $2.2 billion from January to $61.7 billion in February; the services surplus decreased $0.8 billion from January to $19.4 billion in February.

The breakdown of imports and exports:

Exports of goods and services decreased $2.0 billion in February to $190.4 billion, reflecting a decrease in exports of goods. Exports of services were nearly unchanged.

  • The decrease in exports of goods mostly reflected decreases in industrial supplies and materials and in capital goods that were partly offset by increases in consumer goods and in other goods.
  • Exports of services were nearly unchanged. Increases in other private services, which includes items such as business, professional, and technical services, insurance services, and financial services, and in royalties and license fees were mostly offset by a decrease in passenger fares.

Imports of goods and services increased $1.0 billion in February to $232.7 billion, mostly reflecting an increase in imports of services. Imports of goods also increased.

  • The increase in imports of services was mainly accounted for by an increase in royalties and license fees, which included payments for the rights to broadcast the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.
  • The increase in imports of goods mostly reflected an increase in automotive vehicles, parts, and engines. Capital goods decreased.

Perhaps all those impressed by America’s energy independence will be curious to know that the trade deficit excluding petroleum imports was $22.4 billion, in other quite a bit in total energy imports despite the shale boom, which according to some has peaked already. Some other energy trade related data:

  • Feb. non-crude petroleum imports narrowed to $5.7b from $5.9b m/m; 22.8% of total petroleum imports
  • Crude oil imports averaged 7.590M b/d in Feb. compared to 8.275M b/d in Jan.
  • Oil imports from OPEC rose to 45.6% of the total
  • Oil imported from Canada and Mexico was 46.2% of total in Feb. vs 46.9% in Jan.
  • Petroleum deficit in real dollars at $11.9b in Feb.
  • Petroleum exports fell in real dollars to $6,312b in Feb. after $7,151b in Jan

Finally, and most amusingly, in the breakdown of trade with regional partners, we find this pearl:

  • The goods deficit with China decreased from $27.8 billion in January to $20.9 billion in February. Exports decreased $0.5 billion to $9.9 billion, and imports decreased $7.5 billion to $30.7 billion

So net deficit with China tumbled… at precisely the same time China reported its net surplus with the US soared! With so much data manipulation is it any wonder thee lies are just so glaring now?

Most notably however, is that as a result of this “unexpected” surge in the deficit, the Q1 GDP forecast cuts, anywhere between 0.2% and 0.4% are set to begin. To wit:


    



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Americans Say 75 Percent of Politicians Are Corrupted, 70 Percent Use Political Power to Hurt Enemies

Americans don’t paint a pretty picture of their public servants
in the
new national Reason-Rupe poll
. Americans tell Reason-Rupe that
75 percent of all politicians are “corrupted” by campaign donations
and lobbyists.  And they say 70 percent of politicians use
their political power to help their friends and hurt their
enemies.

No wonder just 17 percent approve of the job Congress is
doing.  Or that President Obama’s approval rating is just 43
percent, with 51 percent disapproving.

And while the Supreme Court just struck down limits on campaign
contributions to federal candidates, the new Reason-Rupe poll finds
Americans are actually more concerned about how elected officials
misuse their power and taxpayer money once they’re in office than
they are worried about campaign contributions. 

Asked, which is a “more serious” problem — “special interest
groups spending private money on campaigns to elect the politicians
they favor” or “elected officials enacting policies and spending
taxpayer money that benefit the special interests they favor” — 63
percent of Americans said officials enacting policies and spending
taxpayer money for special interests was a more serious
problem.

Similarly, Americans say they are “more bothered” by politicians
abusing political power than they are by some of the personal
issues most often associated with political downfalls. 
Seventy percent of Americans say they would be “most bothered” by a
politician who used his or her political power to bully someone,
while 14 percent would be most bothered by a politician using
drugs, and 11 percent would be most bothered by a politician who
cheated on his/her spouse.


The Reason-Rupe national poll
 conducted live interviews
with 1,003 Americans on mobile (503) and landline (500) phones from
March 26-30, 2014.  The margin of error is plus or minus 3.6
percent.  Princeton Survey Research Associates International
executed the nationwide Reason-Rupe survey.

Paying NCAA Basketball Players

With the Final Four approaching, just 42 percent of Americans
say college athletes should be paid. However, when they learn the
NCAA makes over $700 million a year from the television broadcast
rights to the NCAA basketball tournament, 50
percent of Americans tell Reason-Rupe that college basketball
players should receive a share of the television revenue
. And
64 percent of Americans say college athletes should receive some of
the revenue when their jerseys are sold or likenesses are used in
video games or on merchandise.

Flight 370 Conspiracy Theories

With Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 still missing, there are no
shortages of theories about what happened.  Reason-Rupe
finds 35
percent of Americans think a mechanical problem caused the plane to
crash
, 22 percent believe the pilots crashed the plane
intentionally, 12 percent feel it was destroyed by terrorists, 9
percent say the plane landed safely and is in hiding, 5 percent
believe the disappearance is related to supernatural or alien
activity, and 3 percent think it was shot down by a foreign
government.

Trusting the IRS, NSA and Facebook

The NSA topped Facebook when Americans were asked who is most
likely to violate their privacy.Thirty-six
percent of Americans said the NSA was most likely to violate their
trust
, 26 percent said Facebook, 18 percent said the IRS and 12
percent said Google.

But when it comes to whom the public would trust the most with
their personal information, 35 percent said the Internal Revenue
Service, 18 percent said the NSA, 10 percent said Google and just 5
percent said they trust Facebook the most with their privacy.

Tax Returns and Government Waste

Americans may trust the IRS more than Facebook, but with the
April 15 deadline for filing federal income tax returns
approaching, they’re reminded of how much money they send to the
government. Asked open-ended how much of every tax dollar is
wasted, the
median answer was half, 50 cents
.

This time of year also reminds Americans of the overly
complicated tax code. Sixty-two percent of Americans say they’d
favor switching to a flat tax.  When asked open-ended what
they’d set the flat tax to, Americans said 15 percent (median).

Affordable Care Act


Fifty-three percent of Americans have an unfavorable view of the
Affordable Care Act
, while 36 percent have a favorable view of
the law in this Reason-Rupe poll.

Forty-three percent of Americans say they will blame the federal
health care law if their health care premiums increase or their
health care plan changes in the next year. Twenty-six percent say
they’ll blame health insurance companies, 17 percent would blame
the economy and 5 percent would blame their employers.

Minimum Wage


Reason-Rupe finds 67 percent of Americans favor
 increasing
the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. 

Fifty-one percent would still support raising the minimum wage,
even if they had to pay higher prices as a result. However, just 39
percent of Americans would still favor raising the minimum wage if
it caused companies to lay off or hire fewer workers.

When it comes to paying for a higher minimum wage, 38 percent
say companies would raise their prices, 32 percent say companies
would lay off workers, 18 percent say they’d reduce executive
salaries, and 6 percent say firms would accept smaller profits.

Forty percent of Americans say raising the minimum wage would
have no impact on the number of jobs available, 38 percent say it
would decrease the number of jobs, and 20 percent believe it would
increase the number of jobs.

2014 Elections

If the 2014 elections were held today, 40 percent of Americans
said they’d vote for the Democrat in the congressional district and
36 percent would vote for the Republican. When it comes to
controlling Congress, 29 percent of Americans would like Democrats
to take control, 24 would like Republicans to control Congress and
43 percent wish neither major party would be in control of
Congress.

Republican Party Presidential Primary

Mike Huckabee         
15%

Paul Ryan              
   12%

Rand Paul
                
11%

Jeb Bush                
  11%

Chris
Christie            
10%

Ted Cruz                
  6%

Marco
Rubio             
6%

Democratic Party 2016 Presidential Primary

Hillary Clinton           64%

Joe Biden              
  11%

Elizabeth Warren       6%

Energy Subsidies and Keystone Pipeline


Americans favor building the Keystone Pipeline by a 61-32
margin
, Reason-Rupe finds.  Fifty-eight percent of
Americans support giving subsidies to wind, solar and hydrogen
energy companies. Just 31 percent of Americans favor giving
subsidies to oil, gas and coal companies.

Police Conduct

Reason-Rupe finds 78 percent of Americans have a favorable view
of the police. However, with protests over police shootings in
places like Albuquerque, 50
percent of Americans say police officers are not generally held
accountable for misconduct
, while 46 percent say police are
held accountable. Sixty-six percent of blacks and 64 percent of
Hispanics say the police are not held accountable for
misconduct.

Nearly nine in 10 Americans, 88 percent, believe citizens should
be allowed to videotape uniformed police officers while they are
making arrests or performing other parts of their jobs.

Full Poll

Poll results and additional Reason-Rupe poll resources
are available
here.
 This is the latest in a series of Reason-Rupe public
opinion surveys dedicated to exploring what Americans really think
about government and major issues.  This Reason Foundation
project is made possible thanks to the generous support of the
Arthur N. Rupe Foundation.

Contact

Emily Ekins, Director of Polling, Reason Foundation, (310)
574-2961

Kristen Kelley, Communications Specialist, Reason Foundation,
(443) 722-5592

Reason-Rupe
April 2014 National Telephone Poll

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