Americans have high hopes, patience for Obama

January 18th, 2009 - 11:49 am ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaWashington, Jan 18 (IANS) Americans are confident President-elect Barack Obama can turn the economy around and are prepared to give him years to deal with the crush of problems he faces, a new New York Times/CBS News poll showsMajorities of Americans did not expect real progress on the economy, healthcare improvements or ending the war in Iraq for at least two years, the poll found ahead of his inauguration as America’s first black president Tuesday.

While hopes for the new president are extraordinarily high, the poll found, expectations for what Obama will actually be able to accomplish appear to have been tempered by the scale of the nation’s problems at home and abroad.

The Times said findings suggest that Obama has achieved some success with his effort - which began with his victory speech in Chicago in November - to gird Americans for a slow economic recovery and difficult years ahead after a campaign that generated striking enthusiasm and high hopes for change.

Most Americans said they did not expect real progress in improving the economy, reforming the health care system or ending the war in Iraq - three of the central promises of Obama’s campaign - for at least two years. The poll found that two-thirds of respondents think the recession will last two years or longer.

While the public seems prepared to give Obama time, Americans clearly expect the country to be a different place when he finishes his first term at the end of 2012.

The poll found that 75 percent expected the economy to be stronger in four years than it is today, and 75 percent said he would succeed in creating a significant number of jobs, while 59 percent said he would cut taxes for the middle class.

The survey found that 61 percent of respondents said things would be better in five years; last April, just 39 percent expressed a similar sentiment.

By a number of measures, Obama appears to enjoy more good will from the American public than did his recent predecessors, the Times said.

For example, 68 percent of respondents said he would be a very good or good president; at this point after the disputed election of 2000, just 43 percent of respondents said that about President George W. Bush.

Bush is leaving office with just 22 percent of Americans offering a favourable view of how he handled the eight years of his presidency, a record low, and firmly identified with the economic crisis Obama is inheriting.

The telephone survey of 1,112 adults was conducted Jan 11-15. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.

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