NBC NEWS/WALL STREET JOURNAL

The latest NBC-WSJ Poll conducted February 21-24 finds a souring public mood, frozen approval for the president’s performance, and a drop in approval of his handling for the economy. There is a great deal of interesting data on a range of issues but the broader story of the poll are the across-the-board deficits in confidence in Washington.

Mood and President Obama
Just one month into his second term, overall approval of the job President Obama is doing is at 50{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} while just 44{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} approve of how he is handling the economy (down from 49{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} a month ago). After data in September, October, and December of 2012 suggested a more optimistic outlook, today the overall mood of the country has dropped to roughly the level it was in August 2012, with just 32{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} of Americans say things are headed in the right direction and 59{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} saying the country is off on the wrong track. History suggests President Obama’s approval will be anchored by this number which means unless “right direction” improves, it will be difficult for the President to push his approval above 50{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} – this will be especially hard should the economy continue to struggle and should Washington continue to bicker.

Lack of Confidence and Substantial Disagreement
Consistent with January’s polling, 51{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} of Americans are less confident in their economic outlook based on what is happening in Washington today and pluralities of all Americans say they disagree with what President Obama (45{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} Agree – 46{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} Disagree), Democrats in Congress (40{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} Agree – 46{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} Disagree), and Republicans in Congress (29{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} Agree – 57{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} Disagree) are proposing to do. When you mute the partisan noise in the data you see that majorities of white voters and of independent voters disagree with what is being proposed by both Congressional caucuses and President Obama.

{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} Disagree with proposing to do
Among Whites Among Independents
President Obama  54{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}  50{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}
GOPers in Congress  53{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} 52{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}
Dems in Congress 52{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} 56{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}

Sequester
The sequester is seen by 52{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} of American adults as a “bad idea” but 53{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} of adults would rather see the current sequester cuts (14{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}) or a plan with more cuts (39{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}) compared with only 37{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} preferring a plan with fewer cuts. Among the 51{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} who are less confident in their economic outlook based on what is happening in Washington today, 57{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} prefer either the current plan (12{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}) or a plan with more cuts (45{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}).

Republican Issues
The Republican Party is seen as best at handling the federal deficit (31{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} GOP – 25{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} Dem), controlling government spending (37{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} GOP – 21{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} Dem), and ensuring a strong national defense (45{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} GOP – 19{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} Dem). Republicans and Democrats are tied (well within the margin of error) on dealing with taxes (32{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} GOP – 35{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} Dem), and handling the economy (30{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} GOP – 32{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} Dem) among all adults. Among Independents, Republicans have a slight edge on the economy but trail by three still on taxes, an important indication that the debate is shifting following the fiscal cliff and the months of the presidential campaign.

Israelis and Palestinians
As President Obama plans his first visit to Israel, the NBC-WSJ polling shows 55{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} of Americans expect the US to treat Israelis and Palestinians equally and not favor one over the other. A plurality (45{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}) of Americans personally sympathize more with the Israelis over the Palestinians (13{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}).  Evangelical Christians sympathize more with Israelis than Palestinians 74{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} to 2{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}, and Protestants sympathize more with Israelis than Palestinians 52{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} to 8{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}.

Catholics sympathize with Israelis over the Palestinians by a three-to-one margin (39{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} sympathize with Israelis – 15{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} sympathize with Palestinians). Among the 16{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} of national respondents who categorize their religion as “none”, 30{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} sympathize with the Israelis and 26{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} with the Palestinians.

Still, roughly seven out of ten (69{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}) of Americans do NOT believe the Israelis and Palestinians will ever be able to form a lasting peace. An opinion shared by Americans of all religions or no religion.

Guns
The NRA continues to be viewed favorably by a plurality of Americans (42{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} Positive – 34{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} Negative) even as this poll captured a movement toward a preference for “stricter” gun laws among all adults.

Driving most of the five point movement from 56{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} to 61{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} saying gun laws should be “more strict” were individuals from households without guns who represented 54{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} of the survey. Their opinion on gun laws moved from 67{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} “more strict” in January to 75{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} “more strict” in February.

NBC News / Wall Street Journal — February 21-24, 2013 (PDF Format)

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