In one of the economy’s darkest hours in decades, it looks as if people are taking Barack Obama up on his exhortations for hope and change. Seven in 10, or 72 percent, voice confidence the president-elect will make the changes needed to revive the stalling economy, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll released Tuesday.
Underscoring how widely the public is counting on its new leader, 44 percent of Republicans joined nearly all Democrats and most independents in expressing that belief.
The poll shows that faith in Obama is even broader, at least for now. Sixty-eight percent said they think that when he takes office in January, the new president will be able to enact the policies he pushed during his presidential campaign.
People signaled a willingness to wait on one of the keynote items of his agenda — tax cuts. Only about one in three, or 36 percent, said they wanted Obama to make income-tax cuts a top priority when he takes office, and even fewer wanted higher taxes on the rich to be a primary goal.
Instead, 84 percent said strengthening the economy should be a top-tier priority. Eighty percent also named creating jobs as a No. 1 order of business.
Majorities in both parties said those issues should be top priorities, though Democrats were a bit likelier than Republicans to say so.
With Obama ending the GOP‘s eight-year hold on the White House under President Bush and about to become the first black president, the AP-GfK poll showed three quarters saying the election made them feel hopeful, six in 10 feeling proud and half expressing excitement.
Though Democrats were far likelier to express those emotions, such feelings were not limited to them. Among Republicans, half said they were hopeful, one third proud and nearly a fifth said they were excited about the election results. Another quarter in the GOP said they were depressed.
Highlighting anew how the Iraq war has faded as a paramount public concern, only half of people said they wanted Obama to make a U.S. troop withdrawal a top focus upon taking office.
Until the weakening economy replaced Iraq as the top problem in public opinion polls nearly a year ago, Obama’s pledge to set a timetable from withdrawing troops from the war was his highest-profile issue.
But the AP-GfK poll also underscored the enduring partisan split over the war. Two-thirds of Democrats want a troop withdrawal to be a top Obama priority, compared with just three in 10 Republicans.
Half also said they wanted universal health care coverage to be a No. 1 priority, again with far more Democrats than Republicans citing it as a top goal.
Nearly three-quarters said they’d like Obama to name some Republicans in his Cabinet, as the Democrat has said he would do.
Most also expressed no problem with the lock Democrats will have on Washington beginning next year. Four in 10 said Democratic control of the White House and Congress will be good for the country while another two in 10 said it would make no difference. Only a third said it would hurt.
The AP-GfK poll was conducted Nov. 6-10 and involved cell and landline telephone interviews with 1,001 adults. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.