Mass. & Florida Look Favorably on Obama’s First 100 Days

4/29/2009

Florida and Massachusetts voters give President Barack Obama high marks across the board for his professionalism and performance as he reaches his 100th day in office, according to separate polls conducted by Suffolk University/7NEWS.

And even though a majority of voters polled (61 percent in Massachusetts, 60 percent in Florida) disapprove of the stimulus packages given to some banks, financial institutions and auto companies, a majority (53 percent in Massachusetts, 56 percent in Florida) approves of the way Obama is handling the economy. And 56 percent of Massachusetts and 57 percent of Florida voters polled say the president has a clear plan for solving the nation’s economic problems.

Different profiles, similar views

Suffolk University/7NEWS released the polls of Florida and Massachusetts registered voters today. The two East Coast states have different voter profiles: Massachusetts respondents were 48 percent unenrolled/independent, 36 percent Democrat and 15 percent Republican, compared to Florida, where 45 percent of those polled were Democrats, 36 percent Republicans and 17 percent unenrolled/independent. Yet respondents' views on the issues were similar.

Performance

In Florida, 60 percent said they approve of the way Barack Obama is handling his job as president, while 66 percent of those in Massachusetts concurred, according to the poll. A majority (68 percent in Massachusetts, 61 percent in Florida) said he is setting the right priorities; and most voters (70 percent in Massachusetts, 61 percent in Florida) said he is meeting expectations.

"Statistically, it doesn't get much better for an elected official than it is for Barack Obama today," said David Paleologos, director of the Political Research Center at Suffolk University in Boston.  "Whether one looks at popularity, performance, the economy or foreign policy, Obama has touched all bases in this poll."

Foreign policy

Regarding foreign policy, the Suffolk University/7NEWS poll found:

  • 61 percent in Massachusetts, 57 percent in Florida, approve of the way Barack Obama is handling foreign policy

  • 66 percent in Massachusetts, 64 percent in Florida, said that world leaders respect Barack Obama

  • 69 percent in Massachusetts, 62 percent in Florida, said that President Obama has improved the nation's image overseas

  • 91 percent in Massachusetts, 87 percent in Florida said that Obama made the correct decision in using lethal force on Somali pirates who had attacked a U.S. merchant ship

"Foreign policy, which was a traditionally weaker poll issue for Obama during the presidential campaign, is now a strong suit for the new president," said Paleologos.

Economic policy concerns

However, the news isn't all good for Obama, who deals with a struggling economy.  Despite overall approval of his economic policies, there are concerns about the types of steps the government has taken:

  • 41 percent in Massachusetts, 47 percent in Florida, said big government is the biggest threat to the country in the future, compared to big business (23 percent) or big labor (17 percent)
  • 54 percent in Massachusetts, 60 percent in Florida would rather have a smaller government providing fewer services
  • 61 percent in Massachusetts, 60 percent in Florida, disapprove of monetary packages for banks, financial institutions and auto companies

"Voters acknowledge that stimulus packages and bigger government are a necessary economic fix for the short term, even though they disapprove,” said Paleologos.  “But if Barack Obama's administration calls for bigger government and stimulus solutions for all problems, his favorability may decline in the long term."

Expectations for living standard

Further, 60 percent of Florida voters said they believe that the standard of living for the next generation will be the same or worse, while 35 percent said it will be somewhat or much better. In Massachusetts, 69 percent said the standard of living will be the same or worse, while 27 percent said it will be somewhat or much better.

Methodology

The Suffolk University/7NEWS polls of Massachusetts voters was conducted April 24 through April 27, 2009.  The Florida poll was conducted April 26 through April 28. The margin of error on each study of 400 is +/- 4.9 percent at a 95 percent level of confidence.  All respondents from the statewide surveys were registered voters.  Marginals and cross-tabulation data will be posted on the Suffolk University Political Research Center Web site at 10 p.m. April 29, 2009.  For more information, contact David Paleologos at 781-290-9310.

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Massachusetts Popularity

Obama's personal popularity of 64 percent in the Bay State was surpassed only by that of the two most prominent women in his Washington circle.

First Lady Michelle Obama was looked on favorably by 70 percent of those polled.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was preferred by voters in last year’s Massachusetts Democratic presidential primary, retains a slightly higher favorability rate here than the president (68 percent).