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Americans Trust Obama Most on Economy

Americans Trust Obama Most on Economy

by Dennis Jacobe

PRINCETON, NJ -- As the president issues his proposed new federal budget, Americans are more likely to say they have "a great deal" or "fair amount" of confidence that he (57%) will recommend the right things for the U.S. economy than they do in Democratic (48%) or Republican (39%) leaders in Congress or in Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke (42%).

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These findings are from Gallup's annual Economy and Personal Finance survey conducted April 4-7, 2013. Gallup has asked this question each year since 2001 for the president, congressional leaders, and the U.S. Federal Reserve chairman.

Americans' confidence in President Obama's ability to recommend the right thing for the U.S. economy is up from 50% the past two years, but it remains below his high of 71% in 2009.

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Democrats overwhelmingly have confidence in Obama on the economy, at 90%, while 24% of Republicans do so. Independents are split with 51% expressing a great deal or fair amount of confidence in the president and 47% saying they have only a little or almost no confidence in his economic decision-making.

There is a 10-percentage-point gender gap, with 62% of women and 52% of men saying they have a great deal or fair amount of confidence in the president on the economy.

Confidence in Democratic Congressional Leaders Up, Republicans Remain at Decade Low

Americans' confidence in the Democratic leaders in Congress to do the right thing for the economy increased to 48% this year, up from their decade low of 39% in 2012. It is also higher than the 41% in 2011 and 43% in 2010, but is still slightly below the 51% of 2009. Confidence in Democrats was highest in 2001, at 66%.

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Confidence in the Republican leaders in Congress was essentially unchanged this year at 39%, compared with 38% last year. This essentially matches Republicans' previous lows of 37% in 2008 and 38% in 2009. Like their Democratic counterparts, confidence in Republicans was highest in 2001, at 66%.

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Confidence in Fed Chairman Bernanke Improves

Forty-two percent of Americans express confidence in Ben Bernanke, up from 39% a year ago. This reverses the steady decline seen since 2009, when 49% of Americans expressed confidence in his economic leadership.

At the same time, 38% of Americans express little or no confidence in the Fed chairman, meaning that unlike last year, more Americans currently express confidence in the Fed chairman than not. Gallup has measured Americans' confidence in Fed Chairman Bernanke since 2006. This year, 20% do not have an opinion about Bernanke.

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More than half of Democrats (55%) express confidence in Bernanke, compared with about one in three Republicans (36%) and independents (35%). Party approvals of Bernanke were reversed prior to 2009 when he was serving under former President George W. Bush.

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Americans' increased confidence in Obama's ability to make the right decisions for the U.S. economy is consistent with his re-election and the improvement in economic confidence Gallup found earlier this year. Still, it seems unlikely that this increased confidence will translate into a positive reception for the president's new budget. Even before it is released, both Democrats and Republicans have criticized the president's budget.

Increased economic confidence is also likely the source of improvement in Bernanke's rating. While economists may debate the Fed's policies, Bernanke is generally seen as a powerful force for economic stability in the global financial markets, but this may not be enough for him to be reappointed, particularly if the U.S. economy goes into another economic swoon this spring.

On the other hand, more than half of Democrats expressing confidence in Bernanke does not hurt his reappointment. Nor does the turnaround in overall confidence in him with more Americans expressing confidence in his economic decision-making than not. The real issue about whether Bernanke will continue as Fed chairman may be less of a question of whether the president wishes to reappoint him than whether he is willing to serve another term.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted April 4-7, 2013, with a random sample of 1,005 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by region. Landline telephone numbers are chosen at random among listed telephone numbers. Cellphone numbers are selected using random digit dial methods. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.

Samples are weighted to correct for unequal selection probability, nonresponse, and double coverage of landline and cell users in the two sampling frames. They are also weighted to match the national demographics of gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, population density, and phone status (cellphone only/landline only/both, cellphone mostly, and having an unlisted landline number). Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2012 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older U.S. population. Phone status targets are based on the July-December 2011 National Health Interview Survey. Population density targets are based on the 2010 census. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

View methodology, full question results, and trend data.

For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit

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