Obama, Stimulus Spending Do Poorly in Montana Poll

By Beacon Staff

HELENA – Montanans give President Barack Obama poor marks on job performance, don’t approve of the federal stimulus spending and think that health care will get worse under the federal health care bill, according to poll results released Tuesday.

The Montana State University poll found that 37 percent approve of Obama’s job performance, while 53 percent disapprove and 10 percent are undecided.

The MSU-Billings telephone survey of 414, conducted from Nov. 5-8, has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points.

Respondents were split 42-42 on Obama’s handling of foreign relations, with 17 percent undecided on the issue. The president fared worse on handling of the economy, where 35 percent approved and 56 percent disapproved.

Support for the federal economic stimulus package came in at just 28 percent. Sixty-one percent opposed it and 11 percent were undecided.

“What comes through in all this, is that he is still fighting two wars, there are a lot of economic problems, and he is promoting a health care plan that people are unsure about,” said MSU-Billings political scientist Craig Wilson.

The survey said that most, 74 percent to 26 percent, think that health care will get worse rather than better with the health care bill.

At the same time however, Montanans slightly favored the more liberal notion of including the so-called public option in health care overhaul plans. That plan was supported by 48 percent and opposed by 42 percent.

“That is saying to me that Montanans are willing to consider a public option or some kind of national program, but at the moment they are thinking of themselves and are unconvinced it will be better for themselves,” Wilson said.

Montanans are split 40-40 on ending the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy when it comes to treatment of gays, while 20 percent are undecided.

Only 42 percent now support the original decision to go to war in Iraq. But 54 percent support the original decision to go to war in Afghanistan, and the largest group — 48 percent to 37 percent — favor sending more troops to Afghanistan.

Bringing Guantanamo Bay prisoners to the U.S. for trial was supported by 35 percent, and opposed by 52 percent.