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Tenn confident in Obama, not economy, MTSU Poll says

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Tennesseans have warmed to Barack Obama since November’s election, express confidence in his ability and ethics, and think congressional Republicans aren’t doing enough to cooperate with him, according to the latest MTSU Poll.

“New presidents typically enjoy the benefit of the doubt from the public early in their terms, even from those whose votes they didn’t get,” said MTSU Poll Associate Director Jason Reineke. “This is especially true during the first 100 days of a president’s first term. It remains to be seen whether Tennesseans’ good will toward President Obama will endure. We’ll have a better sense of that after we’ve conducted our next poll in the fall.”

The February poll of 629 randomly selected Tennessee adults also finds that while economic worries and pain are widespread and satisfaction with general state conditions is falling, satisfaction with national conditions, though low, is rising. But this goodwill and satisfaction does not extend to state government, where approval of Gov. Phil Bredesen is still high but slipping, and approval of the state Legislature has sunk to levels not seen since the Operation Tennessee Waltz scandal in 2005.

As for items on the 2009 legislative agenda, nearly two-thirds of Tennesseans support allowing grocery stores to sell wine, education tops the list of things Tennesseans think state government should spend more money on, most say abortion should be legal under certain circumstances, and opinion divides evenly on whether Tennessee should constitutionally ban a state income tax or introduce one to cut sales taxes and eliminate grocery taxes.

The poll found that 53 percent of Tennesseans now approve of Obama, even though only 42 percent of them voted for him just four months ago. Fifty-seven percent express confidence in his administration’s ability to manage American foreign policy. About as many, 59 percent, express confidence both in his administration’s ability to improve the economy and to manage the federal government. And 61 percent express confidence in his administration’s ethical standards.

Fifty-four percent of Tennesseans say Obama is doing enough to cooperate with Republicans in Congress, but only 24 percent say congressional Republicans are doing enough to cooperate with Obama. Tennesseans name the economy as the most pressing problem, both at the national and state levels, and two-thirds of Tennesseans say the recession has hurt them financially. Eighty-two percent say they are worried about the economy over the next few years. But the poll’s 100-point mood barometer measuring approval of the president, perceived health of the national economy, and satisfaction with the nation’s direction rose to 28 from last fall’s all-time low of 20. The state mood barometer declined by 11 points but, now standing at 43, is notably higher than the national mood barometer.

“Overall, these results reflect deep concern about the economy but some optimism, probably stemming from confidence in Obama and the direction he is taking the country,” said Robert Wyatt, director of MTSU’s Office of Communication Research.

Tennesseans seem less pleased with state-level political leaders. Bredesen’s approval rating remains a respectably high 52 percent, although it has dropped from 58 percent just last fall and registers well below his all-time high of 72 percent in Spring 2004. The state Legislature fares worse.

The proportion of state residents who approve of the job the Legislature is doing has slid from 39 percent to just 34 percent, a low not seen in the MTSU Poll since Spring 2006, the aftermath of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s “Operation Tennessee Waltz” sting that led the arrest of several state legislators on bribery charges.

The lowest approval score for the Legislature in the poll’s history was 33 percent in Spring 2003. Then, as now, the state was facing a recession-induced fiscal crisis. The poll assessed public opinion on a number of issues likely to be taken up during this spring’s state legislative session. For example, 62 percent of Tennesseans say grocery stores should be allowed to sell wine if they are located in areas that already allow the sale of alcoholic beverages. Education ranks highest on the list of things Tennesseans say state government isn’t spending enough money on.

Fifty-one percent say Tennessee is spending too little on state universities. Fifty-four percent say the same about community colleges and technical schools, and 62 percent say it about elementary and secondary education. Highway construction ranks lowest, with only 25 percent saying the state should spend more. Furthermore, 52 percent say abortion should be legal under some circumstances, but not others. And while 46 percent of Tennesseans support amending the state’s constitution to forbid a tax on personal income, a statistically equivalent 40 percent favor introducing a state income tax to lower sales taxes and eliminate taxes on groceries. A sizable 14 percent are undecided. In still other poll findings:

• Nearly one in six Tennesseans has told a joke about Barack Obama’s race, and three-fourths say they’ve heard or read at least one, even though only 15 percent of Tennesseans say they would find such a joke funny.

• Just over half (53 percent) of Tennesseans say sending troops to Iraq was “a mistake,” while 38 percent say the move was not a mistake, and the rest aren’t sure.

• Dividing sharply along party lines, about a third (37 percent) of Tennesseans would like to see Democrats control the state Legislature, but another third (33 percent) would like to see Republicans running things, and just over a quarter (27%) don’t know who they’d like to see in charge of the Legislature. Conducted Feb. 16-28 by Middle Tennessee State University’s College of Mass Communication, the telephone poll of 629 randomly selected Tennessee adults has an error margin of plus or minus four percentage points at the 95 percent level of confidence.

Theoretically, this means that a sample of this size should produce a statistical portrait of the population within four percentage points 95 out of 100 times. For 10 years, the Survey Group at MTSU has been providing independent, non-partisan, and unbiased public opinion data regarding major social, political, and ethical issues affecting Tennessee. The poll began in 1998 as a measure of public opinion in the 39 counties comprising Middle Tennessee and began measuring public opinion statewide in 2001.

Learn more and view the full report at www.mtsusurveygroup.org
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Members Opinions:
March 03, 2009 at 5:55pm
Very interesting.
March 03, 2009 at 6:41pm
I get the impression they were only calling people in the bigger cities...
March 03, 2009 at 6:44pm
No Farmall, they were calling on locals in this city.
March 03, 2009 at 7:33pm
They certainly didn't ask me.

We've a dirty socialist as president who's quickly and effortlessly steering this poor little country into ruin, and there's nothing we can do about it now.

Hang on tight, boys, it's going to be a rough ride.
March 03, 2009 at 7:47pm
I guess the poll takers did not figure they would have to ask certain people to begin with. Second, you can call our President what you like, but he his still your President too. If indeed you feel he is steering this this poor little country into ruin, I am sure the last driver that got us here this far left in January of this year. Hang on guys I expect a smooth ride.
March 03, 2009 at 7:59pm
40% of people polled want a state income tax? Yeah right. I think the veracity of the poll might be questionable.
March 03, 2009 at 8:07pm
It could be and could not be payback, however, I am confident that the President will bestow on us eight years. So get used to the idea, and I feel nothing but love for you serr8d, because I can see the hatred in your words of expressions. The last administration left us in a mess that I do not think you would have been qualified to take care of.
March 03, 2009 at 8:10pm
March 03, 2009 at 8:14pm
And Baracky is qualified? He has a booming voice and the Saul Alinsky narrative. He's the farthest left this country has ever had as president; he promised vacuous and undefined 'CHANGE' without giving a velocity or direction. His intent is to turn this nation Euro-socialist. You show me which socialist state has prospered.

Hate, me? Love it when someone seeks to peer into my soul. There's no hate, BB, there's dread and regret. But I'm certainly not one to pull my punches either. I won't be silent, that's for sure. Not when a dirty socialist is raping the nation I love.
March 03, 2009 at 8:17pm
Ban a state income tax, where does it say want a state income tax?
March 03, 2009 at 8:35pm
I will stand my ground too, however, before you start throwing punches, make sure you know the facts. This President is new and this mess we are in started before he took office. He may or may not do things to suit you or anyone else, but I truly was not up for another past eight years. Yes, I really can not tell where the last eight helped us at all. The real thing is instead of the big rich people making money off the poor, it is definitely time for the poor to start keeeping some of their hard earned wages. If you truly feel the country is going to hell, there is always home on land abroad. The retirement, social security and 401's were in trouble berore January 20,2009. If you love this nation, be more supportive and help on a positive note. Do not set back and blow unwanted hot air.
March 03, 2009 at 8:43pm
I can not believe that we encountered the true facts of not upholding the Geneva laws that we as America know of today. We tortured and interrogated criminals against our beliefs and our leaders let it happened.
March 03, 2009 at 8:45pm
CHANGE starts with everyone, not with selected inviduals whose minds are already deterioated and on the path of division.
March 03, 2009 at 9:49pm
BB. Just to note. The 40% figure is in the article and as to Obama being new and the mess having started before he took office, kindly note the fact that Obama was a sitting senator for 4 years prior to being sworn in as POTUS. He did NOTHING nor attempted to propose ANY legislation to alleviate the mess this nation is in. He did NOTHING but run for a new job instead of doing the job he had. He can take his lame excuses that he inherited the problems and shove them. He was PART of the problem and is dishonest to not take any responsibility for it.
March 03, 2009 at 9:53pm
thank you serr8d for some sense
comrade barrettbear 8 posts? being strongly opinionated doesn't make u right
March 03, 2009 at 10:29pm
Since the poll says that 53% of Tennesseans approve of the job Obama is doing and that the margin of error is 4%, it is just as likely that only 49% approve.

Also note that they are comparing a poll of Tennesseans (53%) to the percentage of votes received (42%). This is a bogus comparison since one group was registered voters only and the other is not.

The most astonishing part of this survey is that 61% are impressed with the ethics of this administration. Apparently, a lot of people really admire all of those tax evaders that Obama has picked to be in his cabinet.
March 04, 2009 at 5:09am
I guess if Our President did nothing before, he would not be the only one who was sitting back and let this country dive into the mess we are in. I feel like some of you are haters because he was elected. I just wonder how many of you guys out there would be qualified to be President and do the job that the position entails. Some of you talking probably do not have apot to piss in or a window to throw it out. I believe that the day is here and change is on the way. If you dislike our new commander in chief and think our country is falling apart, there are other places in the far flung corners of the world to live and you might be well suited to be there.
March 04, 2009 at 5:35am
Being opinionated can not make me wrong either.
March 04, 2009 at 8:03am
I'm with you barrettbear!!! Tori, you say that President Obama was a Senator for four years and did nothing nor attempted to propose any legislation..... Well, what about the other 49 Senators as well as the House members who contributed to the mess this country is in?? Are you saying that McCain/Palin would have done a better job? Remember, McCain was a Senator as well, however, he did very little or nothing at all to help. I didn't agree with a lot of the things that President Bush did while he was in office, however, I didn't openly bash him when I didn't agree. My question to all that disagree with President Obama is this, what are YOU doing to help????
March 04, 2009 at 8:11am
Any poll taken at this early juncture isn't worth the time or the effort put into conducting it. The real answer is another year down the road, when this massive spending of our, our children's and our grandchildren's money along with a $1,000,000,000.00 per day interest payment (yeah, that's billion and if you don't believe it, look it up for yourself) catches up with us. And make no mistake, it WILL catch up with us. Then take your poll and see how happy people are.
March 04, 2009 at 8:49am
I was not a Bush supporter, but I really did not understand how so many people really hated him. Especially since he was alomst as liberal as the people that hated him. McCain was a joke, but this buffoon we have now will be lucky to last four years. And now I am beginning to understand the hatred the liberals had for Bush.
March 04, 2009 at 8:49am
I really question polls. I deal with people on a regular basis and I am shocked at how few people actually understand the political process. There are plenty of people that just regurgitate what they have heard on the local news or from Rush without really stopping to think for themselves. How can anyone be confident right now? Whether you voted for Pres. Obama or not, we should all lack confidence in what is going on in this country.
March 04, 2009 at 9:38am
What did people expect? The man has been in office all of 42 days. He stepped into a mess bigger than any of us anticipated. We had 2.5 months of no action from our preious President leading up to the new administration. So tell me, what has he done that is so terrible in his short amount of time? And more importantly, instead of sitting here complaining about everything, if you have ideas as to how to turn this economic mess around, how about writing your state representative and becoming more involved in the political process? Oh wait, it is much easier to monday morning quarterback from the sidelines. The amount of debt the american public now holds is equal to our GNP. The last time this happened was just before the great depression. Greed has put us here. Lack of regulation has put us here. And it did not happen over night. The fix is going to be painful and yes, costly. If anyone thinks otherwise, you're living in fantasy land. Our country can't just file bankruptcy and start over like people do. You can expect this to take at least the next four years. Maybe even longer. It always takes less time to make a mess than clean one up. Instead of sitting here spouting your rhetoric and hate speak, get involved. Find out how you can make a difference in this community.
March 04, 2009 at 11:03am
serr8d, what was Joseph McCarthy like in real life? Sounds like you two were tight back in the day.

Plus, as for saying Obama is raping your beloved country, grow up. Bush and Cheney did nothing for eight years but jump the General Lee over the bill of rights.

P.S.-have fun being right all of the time.
March 04, 2009 at 12:08pm
Um, who had control of the Senate during the Bush presidency? The ignorant sit there now blaming the last presidency for where our country is now, however it takes more than a president to ruin a country.
Obama makes no sense when he speaks out of both sides of his mouth. He says he "gets it", but then says "I'm going to do this anyway" as he leads our country further into debt with the reasoning that it will pull usout of debt. Not wise, but idiotic.
It sickens me to be forced to participate in something I do not agree with. However, I am doing what I can about it. I'm not in debt (almost done with the mtg. too!) and I'm teaching others to be free from the slavery of it.
No Empire on Earth will last. This one is surely coming to an end.
March 04, 2009 at 2:43pm
Don't you all think the most serious threat to a Country is the wide devision and intolerance of its citizens? A divided Nation is wounded and weakened, in my humble opinion. I think we need a completely new political party that will reunited these great states of ours. All this childish bickering is clouding our vision of any prosperity or peace that our founding fathers had intended.
March 04, 2009 at 4:01pm
Talk about national debt, ours, our childrens and our grandchildrens money and the future thereof, wasted money was spent waging a war we had no business being in. We were there for obvious reasons. One thing I learned a few years ago, we not only have terrorists abroad, we have them in our own country. They are known as homegrown terrorists. Example: Oklahoma City. I really do not think a regulated stimilus package on the economy is the fuel on the fire, it might be a sheet to cover you.
March 04, 2009 at 4:05pm
You folks rare back with all this name calling, however, I am sure our Presidents will call on you because you are at the top of the most unimportant people saved on his Blackberry Phone.
March 04, 2009 at 4:21pm
How is Bush responsible for Obama's trillion dollar poltical pork plan, which cost more than all 7 years of Bush's wars?
How is Bush responsible for Obama's ~$trillion TARP II. Obama just poured another $30 billion into AIG on top of the $85 billion Bush gave them with the complicity and insistence of the democratic congress (for a total of $150 billion).

No liberal needs to be wailing about deficits because nobody but Obama, Reid and Pelosi has borrowed 80% of GDP since WWII. This kind of spending is unsustainable without serious tax increases across the board. The "rich" Obama is so intent on punishing can't pay it all no matter how you add it up.

March 04, 2009 at 4:41pm
Instead of unnecessary spending on wars then Bush should have been more focused the economy, especially when gas prices were so high. Then our new administration would not be pouring money into an economy that was weak from the start. Why not let the rich pick up the tab, they made their money the last eight years. The poor were taxed enough last go around. The last bailout under the Bush administration was handed out unregulated and where is that money at now? Pork, beef, chiken or lamb, change has come, get used to it.
March 04, 2009 at 10:26pm
Bush may have spent a lot, but at the rate he is going, Obama will probably surpass Bush's spending within his first year. He's going to give everyone cradle to grave health care, free abortions on demand, free college, etc., etc. Oh, yeah, and he's going to cut the deficit in half within 4-5 years and he's going to give tax cuts too. Remember, the Easter bunny is real too.
March 05, 2009 at 5:17am
You have to spend some to get things going again. The money being spent to revive the economy is critical. That way MTSU can keeep their classes and professors, our roads can be fixed, jobs are created, etc. and people will have health insurance. The bailout money will be regulated, unlike the last one. You guys talk about the money Obama will spend, however the deficit was mounting under the last abministration. The oil companies and wall street was pocketing money while the midddle class, poor and business was losing. If you were smart, why do you not run for office and see if you can patch this mess up. If I were you I would look for a tree to hang out in, that is where you might be at home.
March 05, 2009 at 9:28am
I paid my 30 year mortgage off in less than 5 years. For the next 8 years I plan on investing. Then retiring before 50. I keep hearing that credit is the life blood of business and the market. If you save up and buy what you need with your own money then you have no debt problems. This county and the rest of the country would learn to do that then there would be no crisis. Of the last 22 recessions we have had how many involved the government stepping in and attempting to change things. The answer is one, and that was the great depression. Hold on because we may be in for a real ride.
March 05, 2009 at 9:43am
Alot of these problems came about when the Dems took control of Congress two years ago. Don't blame the President for the problems when most of the problems come out of Congress.
March 05, 2009 at 4:31pm
Yes Farmall now I agree with you, and even though I have cycled through this article with the responses, I can say that Obama will not be right about everything all of the time, but be positive and support him when possible. You know, I did not agree with Bush all of the time,yet after 9/11, I felt safer and secure, especially when flying. There, problems arise and either the Democrats are wrong, the Republicans are wrong and sometimes both parties are wrong. In the end here I hope that we as a one can come together and be the United States of America.
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