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Poll: Obama Doing Woeful Job Selling Stimulus

First Posted: 03/18/10 06:12 AM ET Updated: 05/25/11 03:15 PM ET


A huge swath of the American public has either not personally benefited from the stimulus package or not heard of the Obama administration's signature economic policy helping their local community, according to a new study of public opinion.

A report released on Tuesday by the group, New American Media, provides some startling and troubling data points for the president and his political advisers.

"More than four-fifths of all Americans do not know of any small business in their community or neighborhood that has received a government loan over the last six months," the report finds.

Fifty one percent of the public said they were not aware of newly-created projects in their community or region of their state -- such as new roads and highways or new military bases, ports, bridges or tunnels. Only 44 percent said they were aware of such projects.

Moreover, 80 percent of the public said that the net amount they receive in their regular paycheck from work or their take-home pay has either decreased or stayed the same since the stimulus was passed while only 11 percent said it had increased. The inclusion of tax cuts in the stimulus package was designed to provide immediate relief to middle-class Americans.

New American Media's findings raise a lose-lose specter for the administration: Either the president's signature economic policy isn't having the broad impact that was envisioned, or the White House has done a woeful job selling the package. The study's authors suggest the latter.

"Our poll shows the Obama Administration has not done a good job of letting Americans know about opportunities that exist because of the stimulus package," said Sandy Close Executive Director, of New America Media (NAM), the nation's largest coalition of ethnic news outlets. "Across the country, the Recovery Act has made billions of dollars available for extended unemployment benefits and health insurance for laid off workers. It has appropriated money for small businesses and arts organizations. It has prevented thousands of teachers from being laid off and kept firehouses from closing. Our poll shows -- across the racial and ethnic spectrum -- most Americans remain unaware of these opportunities and as a result are not able to take advantage of them."

The data also portends some serious political hurdles for the administration, as it begins to mount its argument, in anticipation of the 2010 midterm elections, that its policies have made the country and the American people better off.

Forty-seven percent of the population said that the stimulus either had no effect or made the economy worse. Only 40 percent said it had made the economy better. And while 66 percent of all respondents said they felt optimistic about their personal financial situation in 2010, 46 percent of respondents said they thought the American economy is on the wrong track.

And, in a perception that could prove toxic for the president, 40 percent of the public said they thought "only" large corporations and institutions in the United States will benefit from the stimulus.

Here is the study:

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