Capps Center Examines Poll of Obama’s First 100 Days

Results to be Discussed 5:30 p.m. on June 18 at Granada Theatre

Ethics specialist Jim Lichtman and Wade Clark Roof, director of UCSB’s Walter H. Capps Center for the Study of Ethics, Religion, and Public Life, will discuss the results of a recent Zogby poll Thursday, June 18, at the Granada Theatre.

The event will commence at 5:30 p.m. and will be followed by a reception in the McCune Founders Room. It is free and open to the public.

The Zogby poll, titled “The First 100 Days – Integrity, Leadership, Trust,” was conducted in April and reflects the political opinions of 3,367 voters. It aimed to determine whether the American people feel Obama deserves their trust and confidence, and whether they feel he makes responsible, transparent decisions.

The survey is a follow-up to another survey that was conducted in November of 2008, which asked voters to identify which personal qualities the country needs most in a President. The earlier survey revealed that voters were most interested in electing an honest President with integrity and leadership skill.

The new 100 Days survey indicates that voters feel Obama is doing well in all three areas: 58 percent consider Obama to be honest and reliable, and 59 percent feel he has been a capable leader during his first 100 days in office.

Half of the participants said they feel that Obama makes transparent decisions, 78 percent said they consider him to be intelligent and 56 percent said they feel that Obama has a clear vision for leading the country.

But while participants responded positively to Obama’s performance, they were not so complimentary in their review of Congress. Just 18 percent of voters said they feel that Congress is transparent and trustworthy. Twenty-three percent said they feel that Congress is honest, and 22 percent said they feel that Congress has integrity. Even so, 45 percent of voters said that Congress has collaborated well with the new President. In terms of policy issues, participants were split along partisan lines. Less than half of those surveyed said they feel Obama is making wise economic decisions and decisions related to health care. Less than half said they feel he is making sound tax decisions.

Eighty-two percent of Democrats said they feel Obama was capable of uniting the country, while 13 percent of Republicans agreed.

“Political ideology drives the numbers,” Roof said in a press release. He did add that “Obama’s job approval is about the same, if not better, than that of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush in the early months of their presidencies.”

Despite partisan differences, though, 54 percent of those surveyed gave Obama a positive job performance review and 49 percent said they feel Obama will be the President that the country expects him to be.

Lichtman said in a press release that the new Capps survey does not perfectly reflect Obama’s performance, but rather gauges public opinion regarding his first 100 days in office.

“Looking at the first 100 days of any president is something that has become more customary than reflective of serious assessment,” he said. “The real measure of Obama’s leadership won’t come for at least seven to nine months-certainly sooner, if voters can see results from his economic policies as well as the larger issue of health care reform.”


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