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Readers divided 60-40 on Obama’s first year

More than half of respondents to this week’s RBJ Daily Report Snap Poll gave a thumbs-down to President Barack Obama’s performance during his first year in office. Forty percent said they strongly disapprove.

Seventeen percent of respondents said they strongly approve of the president’s first-year performance, and 23 percent said they approve.

The disapproval rating in the RBJ poll is higher than in some national polls. In a CNN poll this month, 51 percent of respondents approved, 48 percent disapproved and 1 percent had no opinion. A CBS News poll showed Obama’s job approval rating at 46 percent, the lowest in CBS News polling since the president took office.

In the latest Snap Poll, the ratio for ratings of Obama’s overall performance—40 percent approval to 60 percent disapproval—was the same as for respondents’ views on his handling of the nation’s economic crisis.

In January 2009, a majority of RBJ Daily Report readers had expressed confidence Obama and his team would be able to resolve the economic crisis. Sixteen percent were very confident; 41 percent were somewhat confident.

Before the 2008 election, Obama and Republican Sen. John McCain were neck and neck in the final RBJ Daily Report Snap Poll on the presidential race. Readers were split 50-50, with Obama having just 13 more supporters than McCain.

Roughly 1,132 readers participated in this week’s poll, which was conducted Jan. 11 and 12.

Overall, what is your opinion of President Barack Obama’s performance during his first year in office?
Strongly approve: 17 percent
Approve: 23 percent
Disapprove: 20 percent
Strongly disapprove: 40 percent

Do you approve or disapprove of the president’s handling of the nation’s economic crisis?
Strongly approve: 15 percent
Approve: 25 percent
Disapprove: 19 percent
Strongly disapprove: 41 percent

What is your political affiliation?
Non-affiliated: 37 percent
Republican: 35 percent
Democrat: 22 percent
Other: 6 percent

Here are some readers’ comments:

Progress has been made from the condition of our country one year ago, in spite of vitriolic opposition based solely on political affiliation and no substantive facts. Imagine if there was some cooperation to get the nation’s business done instead of continued political foolishness. I am an independent and disagree with both parties on various issues, but in this environment, nothing can get done. One way to solve it? Term limits for all of Congress.
—Frank Palmieri, Rochester

The president has failed to get a truly reformative health care bill out of Congress; what he will end up signing will be far too impotent to effect any real change. Furthermore, several easy changes he could have made to begin to repair some of the damage of the previous eight years have not come to pass. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is still in place, as are many of the provisions of the Patriot Act and the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. While he has said the right things on international issues, the economy is really the only area in which measurable progress has been made.
—Matthew D. Wilson

I’m very proud of our president. He had to come in and clean up this mess that our last president left, and it’s not by far over. We have to realize that it’s been only a year. One year and they expect him to clear all of this mess. Thank you. I will support him to the end.
—Calvin Wilson

He has proven that he is unqualified to be president. His delays in funding the war are a perfect example. He has reneged on his promise for transparency in his administration. Spending is beyond control. There is very little reaching across the aisle.
—H.W. Dean

He waits too long to act—such as with his authorization for a long-requested troop surge into Afghanistan. He often waits a long time to even offer his position on an issue. In last week’s say-nothing speech about homeland security he said the "buck stops with me," which he borrowed from Harry Truman’s famous desk placard that said "The Buck Stops Here." What his teleprompter’s line really said was that Barak Obama is no Harry Truman.
—Todd Fisher, Thomson Reuters

I’m sure this poll’s result will fall generally along partisan lines. I voted for Obama, consider myself unaffiliated politically, and grade this first year as a "B." Realistically, a year is not very much time to make significant change and measure results at the national level, but generally I think we are headed in the right direction.
—David Lamb

I believe in free market capitalism. All the bailouts and stimulus funds were part of an agenda that will undermine the America so many people love and sacrificed for.
—Jeff Sanger, Pac-Source LLC

When you ask for approval or disapproval, it really begs the question "In relation to what?" As a blanket approval, absolutely not! In avoiding a financial catastrophe, probably. In spreading himself way too thin, absolutely yes! Just taking the financial mess … Let’s see, we taxpayers give (now that’s a good word) him a couple of trillion dollars, and he, along with some really good special interest hacks in the Senate, House and certain lobbying circles, get to prop up those most egregious financial offenders in our economy. A success? Maybe, and that’s final. I find it curious that the stock market is about the only indicator that’s really "up." Employment is still in the tank, as is the housing market. And, while most banks are now bragging about making money, it’s really mostly OUR money that they’ve made through the largess bestowed upon them by Mr. Obama. They still aren’t lending at rates that would serve as definition of a recovery. Hell, even GMAC has come around begging (again). Hey, let me have a pass on MY taxes for a year, and I’ll call it an absolute success. Are we OK on that? Sorry, I got carried away for a moment. Silly me!
—Rick Bradley

President Obama and We the People must deal with problems that have worsened over multiple decades through neglect and wrong decisions. Health care, the financial/economic system, the causes of terrorism, and environmental decay, among other issues must be dealt with systemically. Concurrently, the president and “we” must deal with unemployment, terror attacks, and other issues must be managed.
—Mike Bleeg, Strategic Results

Before winning the office, Obama said turning things around would be like turning around an oil tanker in the ocean—calculated and slow going but ultimately effective. Obama plays a long game, not the short game desired by the media or the impatient. As with any first-year president, final results take time. But I feel confident that the foundations for positive progress are being established. Steady, deliberate, thoughtful and adaptive actions have been the hallmarks of his leadership so far. I think Obama underestimated the depth of division and partisanship and was therefore caught off guard by an opposition that has explicitly stated they want our president to fail in his efforts to put our country back on the right track. Despite that, on balance, Obama has done some heavy lifting on major issues and set them on a better course, and limited the damage or found the least-bad choice among only bad options. I can only be grateful that we have a wise, intelligent, pragmatic leader at such an exceptionally challenging point in our history.
—Monica Leubner, Fairport

Obama’s policies and spending incontinence are pure socialism and an affront to freedom. His fondling of despots and dictators is an embarrassment to our country, while at the same time turning a deaf ear to democratic uprisings in these same countries. His administration is particularly reckless when it comes to the war on terror. They cannot even bring themselves to speak the words, euphemistically referring to it as “man-caused disasters.” His failure to recognize the biggest threat to this country is reckless and irresponsible—all the while plotting to take over a number of industries, while vilifying Wall Street and capitalism as something evil. He is destroying our country from within.
—Bill Simpson, Victor

Many of us "Americans" are sick and tired of the president of the United States of America apologizing for this country and seemingly being embarrassed by the good we have done and continue to do around the world. We need to see and feel more patriotism and less politics from our "Commander in Chief." He is an embarrassment to anyone who has worn the uniform, fought, bled and died for this country. Our president should grow up, take the arrogant chip off his shoulder and get down to the business of managing this great country not "changing" it for change sake.
—P. M. Palermo II, Strategic Triangle, Inc.

Elections have consequences. Barack Obama won campaigning against George Bush and promising a tax cut for the lowest 95 percent of citizens. If he had kept that tax cut promise, we’d be a lot better off. It’s Obama’s recession now. He was a senator who voted for all the Democrat policies for the last two years of the Bush Administration. We used to have "tax-and-spend-liberals." With Obama, we have "print-and-spend-liberals." Does anyone think massive tax hikes are not in our future?
—Clifford Jacobson, WebHomeUSA.com

I am somewhat embarrassed to be affiliated with the party of "no." Rather than alternatives or compromise my party has decided that failure by the president and Congress is in its interest. Whether or not it is in the interest of the country is irrelevant. Disgusting! Irresponsible! The national scene is just as bad as the state of New York.
—Peter Brizee, broker and owner, T. Peter Brizee Realtors

Obama greatly accelerated the obscene deficit spending practiced in the last few years of the Bush administration. Additionally, he cynically ensured that the spending be directed to his political supporters. He and his Congressional cronies took an oath to protect and defend the constitution of the United States and then proceeded to ignore the constitution whenever it was convenient. His response to Islamic terrorists has been ineffectual. His efforts to cram health care "reform" down the throats of the American people, who do not want what the bill has to offer, is disgusting. I’m afraid the worst is yet to come as we face the inevitable consequences of runaway spending.
—George Dounce

In my opinion Barack Obama has demonstrated in many ways his lack of ability to lead this country. He has been deceitful and flat out lied to the American people. He promises one thing and does another. He has lost all credibility with other nations and severely weakened our position as a world leader. He has put this country at risk in so many ways regarding our monetary standards and our ability to recover from the recession we are now trying to survive. He has handled one crisis after another as if he had blinders on. He surrounded himself with cronies when he promised to rejuvenate our government with highly qualified advisors. I am ashamed to admit that I thought he would be good for this country.
—Phil Turturici, Absolute Consulting

Few have fallen so far so fast. Unemployment up, up, up; stimulus doesn’t; transparency; education (except for his kids); homeland insecurity; Oslo; Copenhagen (twice); transparency; Iraq down/Afghanistan up; mortgage relief; automobile bailouts; health insurance not health care costs; transparency; national debt; cap and tax; Sotomayor and transparency. How can one man do so much damage in less than a year? I shudder to think what the future will bring.
—Jeff Luellen

The Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. Need I say more?
—Lou Romano

I am dismayed at the socialist agenda, out of touch with real people, the selected bad spending resulting in massive government and taxes. Jobs are needed in the "private sector" for me and my kids. Taxes are the other issue, which our children and their children will be left with.
—Greg Palis

Unfortunately, we have a person elected to the most powerful position in our country and possibly the world who is ill-prepared for the job. His lack of experience and his extreme partisanship represents, at best, 20 percent of our country. He has accomplished one thing in his first year: He rammed a poorly designed health care bill through Congress with the most duplicitous dealings ever seen in our country. Not that past presidents have not done some of that, but not to this extent. For show, he promised to close Guantanamo Bay. His total lack of experience showed when he finally studied the matter and understood that it is not realistic. He gave more than 120 speeches on health care. The biggest issues affecting every American today are the economy (seven speeches) and national security. These problems scream at every one of us with the lack of jobs, the condition of the economy and the two terrorist attacks (Fort Hood, Christmas bomber) that he has let occur on his watch. Other than that, what has he done?
—Douglas S. Daeffler

Where to start with this disaster of a president? He is simply wrong on everything and seems bent on destroying our country. From raising taxes to pork barrel spending that has delayed the recovery, Acorn and the registration of illegal Democratic voters in true Chicago poll style and tradition, denigrating himself and thereby his office and our country before evil monarchies, coddling terrorists and giving them the same legal rights as the U.S. citizens they wish to kill, the appointment of incompetents (at best) such as Eric Holder, Janet Nepolitano and Timothy Geithner, the list goes on and on and will only get worse. The good news is that the American public seems to be beginning to see through his rhetoric and Obama could turn out to be the best weapon the Republicans have in the coming elections. Witness what is happening in the Massachusetts special election for Senator right now.
—Scott Mackler, Cleanroom Consulting

Obama will go down in history as one of the worst presidents (albeit a smooth talker). He is weaker than and will prove in the war on terror to be more impotent than Jimmy Carter. I just pray that the economy doesn’t collapse and the country is not attacked by terrorists before he is voted out of office in 2012.
—Mike Kaser, Penfield

I think the public is beginning to realize how bad and totally corrupt this administration is. There will be no recovery as long as businesses have no confidence in what is being done. Historically, what they are doing has never worked and I suspect a motive other than fixing the economy. The uncertainty of higher taxes, higher health insurance costs and continued government spending beyond any hope of paying it off discourages investment. The agenda by the Obama administration is to socialize America, weaken our defenses and ultimately destroy the America we know and love. If they really wanted to fix the economy they would continue the Bush tax cuts, cut corporate taxes and stop the bailouts.
—Bob Brinkman, chairman, Brinkman International Group

He has been a dynamic president, and much has been accomplished or is in the works. However, I disapprove of some of the things he has instituted. As usual, Congress (and some department heads) seem more concerned for their own personal benefits. I would like to see those people “cleaned out” from government service. I am not sure he will do that. Objection to same-sex marriage and abortion issues are two things that need to be resolved. But that is a big challenge, and I don’t think he is concerned with that.
—Bruce Bowen

President Obama played to his natural instincts in his first year, and that was to expand the role of the federal government and minimize the role of the free marketplace. He and his Democratic majorities in Congress will now talk about fiscal restraint, after they broke the bank last year. And it still isn’t over. The public needs to remember this in November and make the Democrats and spend-and-tax Republicans pay the price for their fiscal irresponsibility.
—Dave Daniels, Victor

Obama is still learning who he can trust to advise him and how to work effectively with the media and in the government systems. I don’t think we could ever find a more intelligent, ethical or courageous leader. There are always some things he says or does with which individuals, including me, are going to disagree. Nevertheless, he has my full support.
—Emily Neece

This administration’s policies are burying our children in debt.
—Bill Bauman

It will require additional time for many of the stimulus packages to show an effect. The health care bill is a step in the right direction but will require many revisions to form, fit and function prior to doing the most good for most people.
—Gary S. O’Dea, managing member, Sourcing Solutions Associates, LLC

It’s wonderful to have someone representing our country in the world who is smart, analytical, and inclusive. I’m proud of President Obama and that’s a good feeling for a change.
—Leslie Zornow, Fairport Savings Bank

After Clinton and Bush II I did not think we could trash our Constitution any more but this administration is taking it to a whole different level. Until we as Americans get off our rear ends, take pride in our country, stop looking for a hand out and put people in office that care about liberty and not person power we are doomed to wallow in the mess that has been created.
—Pete Short, J.J. Short Associates, Inc., Macedon

This president has come to us as a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Preaching openness, he has endorsed closed doors. Promising bipartisanship—a "new era" in Washington—we woke to discover the most unilateral political actions in a generation. America is discovering she was prey to the seducing words of a courter, saying whatever he needed to have his way.
—Doug Kennedy

Almost half the voters did not vote for Obama. Those are the forgotten minority taxpayers who carry the load for the excessive spending policies. Basic economics 101 will teach these spending bills are transfer payments and do not drive the economic engine. They burden it with debt and stifle it. When government competes with private enterprise for capital, stagflation results. It’s a matter of time before we enter the inflationary stage with high unemployment. So where is Obama and the Democratic Congress? Not cutting taxes which would stimulate the economy, but unwisely spending with the lack of judgment that does not inspire confidence from the taxpayers. The economic engine of America is stagnated. Put the healthcare cost on top of that, and we are in the death spiral. Then we have the elite senators making deals (Nebraska, Louisiana, etc.). Let’s vote every incumbent out next election. Our president and Congress are no longer representing us.
—Dennis Kiriazides, Xerox, retired

I don’t think President Obama was qualified to be president. While he is sincere in pursuing his solutions to the many problems facing our country, his lack of experience shows. He has to rely on people in Congress who are looking out for themselves and the special interest groups that support them. They are taking advantage of his lack of experience. He has also surrounded himself with people in leadership positions within the administration who are either equally inexperienced or who have agendas of their own. Unless the current course of his leadership changes, our country will be the worse for his term in office.
—Robert Zinnecker, Penfield

We Republicans knew that we were being sold a bill of goods and hopefully the people who elected him and his groups of thieves now know, too.
—Daniel Mossien

I was initially impressed with Obama’s approach, but as time wore on, I realized it was just business as usual, only without the normal "work hard" ethic. Nobody could ever accuse Barack of working hard! As for how he is handling the economic crisis, only time will tell, and it will depend on how history remembers it, but my gut feeling is that we are spending way too much, with very little oversight. Surely much of the money is being siphoned off by greedy bankers and politicians. In any case, the likely outcome will be horrendous inflation, slow or no growth, repeated downturns, a weak dollar and a crippling debt that we will never be able to pay back without large tax increases!
—Joe Fabetes, Rochester

Putting us more in debt is not the answer. Government run business is not the answer. Government telling business what they can pay people is un-American. Government run health care will ruin health care as we know it. Not one health care worldwide run by government works. Plus it will drive up taxes and put us more in debt.
—Ken Williamson

This man is working diligently and intelligently at a really tough job in a really tough time in our nation’s history. Given the circumstances I don’t think anyone could do better, and some have done far worse.
—Jason Stone

President Obama assumed very difficult and unprecedented challenges as he assumed the presidency. He has tackled them with courage and intelligence. After only a year he has made impressive progress although lots remain to be done. We must remember where he started from. How soon do we forget.
—Clay Osborne

Why do you preface your poll with nonfactual information? (Prove that this was the "… country’s most severe financial and economic crisis since the Great Depression.") And if you are intent on prefacing your questions about his overall performance, why don’t you include information on national security and other important issues?
—Keith B. Robinson, CFO, Diamond Packaging 

I believe our president has taken appropriate action to avert a disastrous economic collapse. I strongly believe that we could not have continued as we had in the past but I also believe the work is incomplete. We still need to stop engaging in wars but yet have the resolve and means to have the highest security possible. We need to continue to develop our allies and begin to get them to stand on their own two feet (i.e.; economic aid to Europe and other countries who hate us or are actively supporting terrorists who want to kill us). We need to develop good paying jobs in the U.S. without lining the pockets of top executives. We need a national means to develop fiscal responsibility for corporations and the government. The debacle of paying huge salaries and bonuses for top executives cannot continue while employees are being laid off and companies’ performance is doing nothing or less. We need to reform the SEC to oversee a corporate rating based on the company’s integrity, performance, and fiscal responsibility. We need a way to create boards of executives who will responsibly manage the companies, listen to stockholders, and not give the impression of the "good old boys clubs." We, of course, need affordable quality health plans and treatment for all citizens while compensating doctors fairly and not enriching insurance companies. We need to increase manufacturing in the U.S. and find ways to discourage manufacturing overseas. We need to increase our education performance while fairly compensating teachers and administrators as benchmarked against industry in the area. Lastly we need to change the legislative branches of governments to better become representatives of the people and not be crippled by politics, scandal, dishonesty and dysfunctionalism. We can start with New York and most certainly continue to the national level. This is a lot to address and obviously it cannot be done all at once. But you need to start moving and change something to see if it can work. If we continue to argue, and sometimes lie about the facts, about the change we will only work to stop progress. We don’t need political points. We need action, and I think the president is trying to get us all to change. I hope he is successful.
—Bob Stein 

This president has accomplished more in his first year than any president in recent history. Unfortunately, what he’s accomplishing is taking the country in the wrong direction. I have grave concerns about our individual freedom, economic vitality and position as the best country in the world. 2012 can’t come soon enough, but I fear much of the damage will have been done by then.
—R. Canley

I am concerned about the seemingly unrestrained growth of government, and the perception that government owns the solution to most economic hiccups. I feel the government should stand back and allow small businesses to attain their objectives without ever more burdensome taxes and regulations.
—Joe Cameron

Can you imagine Sarah Palin as our vice president and having to deal with these complex issues if something happened to John McCain? I think (Obama) has done a remarkable job in light what he was left with.
—Peter Bonenfant, Fairport

I feel that based on where we were at the beginning of his administration and the partisan environment created by the Republican party in putting party above national interest, he has done a great job. In many ways, these actions are deplorable. The proof is in the pudding, the markets are coming around and as painful as it seems, we as a collective citizenry are starting to address those who have put ego above right. I’m looking forward to the second act.
—D. Blake, GATA B1 Inc.

The president has made huge progress concerning all the circumstances. Of course, there is a lot more to be done this new year, and this job will not come to an end (or we could stop electing presidents!). I am cheering for him to get the health reform finished so that he can concentrate on other important tasks, like fixing the broken economic system, ending the Afghan war, concentrating on the well being of us Americans, and restoring sanity to the federal budget. I am wishing him and future presidents well.
—Ingo H. Leubner, Crystallization Consulting

(c) 2010 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or e-mail rbj@rbj.net.

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