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Obama Favorability Rating Is Strong, But Has Slipped

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From the Congressional Connection Poll:

By George E. Condon Jr.

President Obama's favorability rating, while still strong, has dropped significantly in the last six months as he has grappled with a massive oil spill, a tepid economic recovery and a controversial healthcare reform law.

The president's overall favorability has dropped below 60 percent and his unfavorable rating risen above a third of the public in the latest Society for Human Resource Management/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll, conducted with the Pew Research Center. In the poll, 56 percent of the public had a favorable opinion, that is, very or mostly favorable, of the president, while 39 percent had an unfavorable, that is, very or mostly unfavorable, view.

A survey conducted by Pew from Oct. 28 to Nov. 30 had the president's overall favorability at 65 percent, with 30 percent unfavorable.

Support for the president remained highest among nonwhites and young people. Those surveyed aged 18-29 viewed Obama favorably, 69-27 percent; for nonwhites, it was 79-17 percent. Whites were split, with 47 percent having a favorable opinion and 48 percent unfavorable. Obama's weakest age group was people over age 65, with 44 percent having a favorable opinion and 52 percent unfavorable.

Democrats still like the president, 84 percent viewed him favorably, while with Republicans, it's the other way, with only 23 percent viewing him favorably. Independents, a key to his election win in 2008, were more split, with 55 percent looking at him favorably and 38 percent unfavorably.

The poll also looked at public opinions of First Lady Michelle Obama, House Speaker Pelosi, House Minority Leader Boehner and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

The first lady remained popular, with 69 percent favorable and 22 percent unfavorable. Fifty percent of those surveyed viewed Pelosi favorably and 27 percent unfavorably, with 14 percent saying they had never heard of her. That is higher than a similar poll conducted last year this time that had Pelosi's favorability at 41 percent.

Boehner was much less well known, with 54 percent of those polled saying they had never heard of him. Twelve percent had a favorable opinion of him and 22 percent unfavorable. [corrected]

Palin hit a low since Pew first included her name in mid-September 2008. She now is viewed favorably by 39 percent, while 52 percent view her unfavorably. Men were split on her, with 44 percent viewing her favorably and 45 percent unfavorably. But 58 percent of women turned thumbs down on her; only 35 percent were thumbs up.

The youngest segment surveyed, aged 18 to 29, were the most negative on Palin, splitting 32 to 59 against her.

The poll of 1,010 adults who were reached by landline or cell phone was conducted Thursday through Sunday. The margin of error is 4 points for the entire sample, with larger error margins for subgroups.

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