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More than half disapprove of Obama at halfway mark

The majority of respondents to this week’s RBJ Daily Report Snap Poll gave a thumbs-down to President Barack Obama’s performance during his first two years in office. But his overall approval rating—at 45 percent—has improved from a year ago.

At the halfway mark of Obama’s term, 22 percent say they strongly approve of the president’s overall job performance, and 23 percent say they approve. A year ago, just 17 percent of Snap Poll respondents said they strongly approved of the president’s first-year performance, and 23 percent said they approved.

The share of respondents saying they disapprove—54 percent—was down from a year ago, when 60 percent voiced disapproval.

On Tuesday, Obama delivered his second State of the Union speech to a joint session of Congress. He devoted most of his hour-long address to the economy.

Some 57 percent of respondents to this week’s poll disapprove of the president’s handling of the nation’s economy versus 60 percent a year ago.

More than 975 readers participated in this week’s poll, which was conducted Jan. 24 and 25, prior to the State of the Union address. Of those, one-third identified themselves as Republican and 24 percent as Democrats.

Do you approve or disapprove of President Barack Obama’s overall job performance?
Strongly approve: 22%
Approve: 23%
Disapprove: 19%
Strongly disapprove: 35%

Do you approve or disapprove of the president’s handling of the nation’s economy?
Strongly approve: 16%
Approve: 27%
Disapprove: 17%
Strongly disapprove: 40%

What is your political affiliation?
Republican: 33%
Democrat: 24%
Non-affiliated: 37%
Other: 6%

Here are some comments from readers:

This president is so anti-business, no business feels safe, and until Congress enacts long-term, pro-business measures, the country’s economy and employment will languish despite all of the “wonderful” news Washington espouses. Spending billions on one project or another is not going to pull this economy along. Let business conduct business and leave the government to govern and regulate as little as possible.
—Richard Phelps, Allen-Bailey Tag & Label Inc.

Obama’s largest flaw is losing the PR battle. As usual, the Republican machine does an excellent job staying on message while the Democrats have multiple complex messages. Death panels? Come on. That is not what health care reform was intending, and yet the Democrats allowed that positioning to stand. We aren’t in a traditional recovery, and signs are looking up. I don’t think anyone else could have gotten us anywhere better any faster.
—Dave Vanable, Honeoye Falls

Barack Obama gets an “F” from me. All talk, no action. He is the first of the new millennium Democrats, only instead of being a “tax and spender” he is a “print and spender.” That’s mainly because he couldn’t get his tax increases passed! His legacy will manifest after he is ousted. That legacy will be high inflation, second-rate medical care, a weak national defense, diminished freedom for all and a debt burden our kids and grandkids will be paying for a long, long time. So many promises, so few results. He has got to go!
—George Thomas, Ogden

President Obama is the best president we’ve had since Reagan. Bush was a blathering moron.
—Mark Montgomery, New York City

My stocks have been far better under Obama than under Bush.
—S. O’Brien, the University of Rochester

The fact he is moving to the center politically to try to save his re-election bid doesn’t change what he has done to this country along with his party’s Congress. If re-elected, he and liberals will go right back to their liberal agenda. We need better representation of “we the people” and not have things jammed down our throat in back-room deals in the middle of the night.
—B. Rutt

The president was not competent to hold the position when he was elected to it. While he has grown somewhat in two years, he is still deficient on many areas, most notably in rallying others to follow his leadership.
—Robert Zinnecker, Penfield

President Obama is doing well under unrelenting challenges. Congress could use vast improvement, so firm common ground is found.
—Carolyn Phinney Rankin, president, Phinney Rankin Inc.

President Obama has achieved difficult goals in spite of an opposing party whose main objective is to oppose everything he does. One of the strengths of America was that when one party lost an election, they would work with the other party until the next election. That hasn’t been the case in this presidency.
—Donald Dinero

The president is a good person, a very smart person, a person with a good story, a good family person with good values—but unfortunately the president is also naive.
—Jay Birnbaum

The president’s initial focus was on socialist programs such as nationalized medicine and cap and trade, both of which are no good for the economy. He did this when the No. 1 issue facing Americans was the economy. Now he got the message and is supposedly going to do something about jobs. Too bad this wasn’t the focus two years ago.
—Mike Kaser, Penfield

It should be entertaining to watch this Clintonian shift to the middle. Just hope everyone remembers what he did in these first two years. He’ll have no re-election to keep him in the middle if he ever sees a second term.
—Devon Michaels, Chili

Dear President Obama: Yes, my political thinking is about 150 degrees from yours, but I still address you as Mr. President. Please don’t call us “folks” in a calculated but seriously lame effort to appear “folksy.” I didn’t care for it when President Bush did it, but at least it meant “people” and sounded natural coming from a Texan. Coming from you it sounds patronizing, as in “you people” or “those people.” P.S. Please see what you can do to stop that loud sucking sound like a bathroom drain coming from the vicinity of the Senate. It is keeping me awake nights. Thank you, and have a good day.
—Renée Thompson, Nixon Peabody LLP

Capitalism is natural selection for the economy. Government bailouts, economic stimulation do not solve the problem (they prolong it). He and the Congress have achieved nothing in the last two years, and the economy shows it. It’s time for someone in Washington to make the tough decisions needed to correct this listing ship.
—Jim Duke, Victor

His is a Chicago politician and goes with the flow. Very ruff shod, but very SMOOOTH.
—Bob Slocomb

"A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned—this is the sum of good government." This is a quote from Thomas Jefferson. By this definition, we have bad government.
—Vinny Dallo, New York Life

President Obama continues to demonstrate leadership and courage in the face of strong political opposition, and for those willing to see it, the evidence is there that the economy is coming around.
—David Lamb, Rochester

WE the people are in better position today than WE were before President Obama became president. WE want to be better economically and WE will. The depth and causes of the economic situation will take up to five years to fix. WE are more aware of the "economic holes" we have dug personally and institutionally over the past decades.
—Mike Bleeg, Strategic Results

I think that, in general, the president has done a decent job, notwithstanding the economy. I’m not sure about the health care bill either. Seems to me that there should be more pressure on states to rein in costs associated with state workers’ pensions and health care costs, paid for by us working stiffs. Why do we need to get to the point where there is the threat of insolvency for the states to do something. Another thing, why can’t we in New York shop for health insurance out of state? We do for car insurance. If we want costs to come down or at least be more reasonable, there has to be a competitive element, I think. Having an essentially monopolistic market won’t give us that.
—Rick Bradley

Our massive government bureaucracy is an ineffective decision-making body that we can no longer afford. Let’s go to direct electronic voting with a secure voting portal in every home supplied by the government. It will be paid for by eliminating the current government bureaucracy and lobbyist structures. None of us, including President Obama, have a say in the current structure. Sorry to be so negative, but things down here in the real world seem to be getting worse not better.
—Ed Schlueter, president, Medgraph Inc.

Best president since Clinton. Reagan was a myth. Sen. Alesi should be thrown out of office.
—B. Schicker

The president has wasted the first two years of his term on fraudulent and wasteful policies while significantly increasing the deficit and debt. Health care, cap and trade are ploys to increase the power of government over the people. Job creation should have been priority No. 1 from day one. Even yet he hasn’t focused on meaningful job creation and restarting the economy.
—Keith B Robinson, Diamond Packaging
Let’s see: Saved the auto industry, saved the banking industry, saved the insurance industry, delivered health care, bipartisan tax agreement, Dow is up from 6,500 to almost 12,000—what part of this don’t we like?
—Dana Miller, City Councilmember

The president took office with the nation in terrible shape from the Bush administration, and he has been consistently attacked, not merely for his political, economic and social views but for his race, religion and national origin in a manner not seen in modern times. He has never yielded to the hate and falsehoods thrown at him, even when his own supporters are angry for his not playing his enemies’ games. Our problems are such that they will not be quickly solved, and I appreciate his personal decency and intelligence.
—Carlos Mercado

The president and his team have done an excellent job during his first two years and the economic crisis he faced. His obstacles have been the lack of reasonable cooperation by the Republicans and the political extremists. One disappointment was the lack of success to make large businesses more accountable and end the reckless excessive compensation and greed that had gotten us into this financial crisis. Another has been the lack of success in ridding ourselves of illegal aliens and developing a program for guest workers that can be enforced. I was also hoping for a more inclusive health care plan that would include all federal, state and government workers without any exclusion. Another would have been the ability to eliminate, or handle in a different manner, pork barrel bills. I hope a reasonable tax plan can be developed in the next two years but this will need more cooperation from the Republicans. In general, I feel that Congress is the biggest obstacle to our recovery and they are beginning to become as dysfunctional as the NYS legislature.
—Bob Stein

Political persuasions aside, it is a shame that the man who holds "most powerful office on the planet” has become a laughing stock around the world.
—Frank Gerham Jr., president, 401-Koach

I believe Obama’s decisions and priorities match mine in the way he has led. I would like to see him focus on better communicating with the nation at large, seeking to clarify the purpose and results of legislation and actions he has taken. I think many would be more supportive if they better understood the "what and the why" of his specific programs and decisions.
—Emily Neece

Let’s forget the fact, for the moment, that Obama—having been born outside of the USA—is ineligible to serve as our president. The real tragedy is that his spend, spend, spend policies are handing the country over to the Chinese, and saddling our children with insurmountable debt.
—Joe Fabetes, Rochester

I would give President Obama a “D” for his performance only because he’s a good family man and looks presidential. Otherwise, I would give him an “F.” His philosophies, policies and lack of knowledge are detrimental to the country. His policies in regards to health care, the economy, “cap and tax,” card check, etc., continuously are plundering the working class in this country who pay federal income taxes. He is shifting the hard earned income from the working class who pay federal taxes to the government class, public and private unions, and those who don’t pay federal income taxes. We are paying too many taxes already. As an example, his health-care bill will add taxes and surcharges throughout the system; make it more expensive and create shortages in care. In fact, the latest estimates for the health care bill is that it will add over $700 billion to the deficit. The “cap and tax” bill, which he supports, will add substantial cost to utility bills for everyone. In addition, he won’t make the necessary massive federal cuts needed in areas such as the Department of Education, Department of Energy, etc. His passive resistance to oil/gas drilling, nuclear power plant construction, etc is alarming. He’s making the United States more dependent upon our enemies who have oil; yet he gives a great ally like Israel the cold shoulder. In summary, his term is putting the United States on the path of insolvency and being a second rate nation.
—John Rynne, president, Rynne, Murphy & Associates, Inc.

When measuring the president’s performance, we should not forget the intolerable mess he inherited. He could have done nothing like his predecessor or moved forward as he chose to do. You can’t strike out until you go up to bat. Sure he has made a few errors, but errors can usually be corrected. In politics, business, and life I think it is better to have made mistakes and learned from them rather than do nothing and point fingers. The health care issue is a prime example. The Republicans tell us it is a bad plan. Compared to what? Do they have a plan?
—Dave Sliney, Macedon

Critics have quickly forgotten the economic conditions that President Obama inherited, as well as the political constraints that limited his ability to respond with a large-enough stimulus package. His actions saved us from economic free fall, and helped to begin the slow process of rebuilding our economy.
—Cindy DeFalco

People are making a great deal about Barack Obama’s supposed "shift to the middle." This "shift" is only happening because of the trouncing that he and the Democratic Progressives took in the November elections. He just wants to hang on and hope that the Senate doesn’t flip Republican in 2012. The real measure of him is what he did when he had clear control of the Presidency and both houses of Congress. He and the Democratic leadership jammed a far-left agenda down America’s throat and when voters had the chance to respond, they rejected it soundly. Given the same circumstances that he had in ’09 and ’10, he would gladly do it all over again. Don’t be fooled!
—Dave Iadanza

(c) 2011 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or e-mail rbj@rbj.net.

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