Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Ratings of Leaders in Washington

9 Feb 2011 12:04 Africa/Lagos

Ratings of Leaders in Washington, While Still Mostly Negative Improve Slightly
Sizable increase in familiarity with and ratings of House Speaker Boehner

PR Newswire

NEW YORK, Feb. 9, 2011

NEW YORK, Feb. 9, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- A new Harris Poll finds that the ratings of some of the most prominent leaders in Washington have improved slightly. However their ratings are still mostly negative; they are just slightly less unpopular now than they were at the end of last year.

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Secretary of State Hilary Clinton continues to be by far the most popular Cabinet member and majorities still do not know enough about Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, Fed Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, Defense Secretary Bob Gates, or the new House Speaker John Boehner to have any opinions of them. However those familiar with John Boehner are up 11 points to 48%, from 37% last October and his positive ratings are up from 12% to 22%.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,566 adults surveyed online between January 17 and 24, 2011 by Harris Interactive.

Findings in this Harris Poll include:

* While substantial majorities are familiar with most of the people covered in the survey, sizable numbers say they are not familiar enough to have any opinions about some of the most visible leaders – Secretary of State Hilary Clinton (19%), Vice-President Joe Biden (29%) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (31%);
* More than half of all adults do not feel they are familiar enough with the following leaders to have any opinions about them: Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner (60%), Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke (55%), Defense Secretary Bob Gates (53%), and House Speaker John Boehner (52%);
* Hilary Clinton's ratings are now 50% positive and 31% negative, a slight improvement and her best numbers since August 2009;
* Joe Biden's ratings are now 33% positive and 39% negative, a significant improvement since last October and equaling his best numbers since August 2009;
* While less than half of all adults are familiar with him, Bob Gates wins mostly positive (30%) rather than negative (18%) ratings—these are his most positive ratings since early 2009;
* Tim Geithner continues to get more negative (26%) than positive (14%) ratings, but even these weak numbers are better than they have been in recent months;
* Nancy Pelosi continues to have many critics. Fully 48% of adults give her negative ratings. However her numbers are a slight improvement on her ratings late last year when she was still House Speaker;
* While most people do not have an opinion of Ben Bernanke, his critics (25%) still outnumber his admirers (20%) by a small margin; and,
* The generic questions about the two parties in Congress continue to show that they are both almost equally unpopular—the Democrats are 47% negative and 19% positive, the Republicans are 44% negative and 20% positive. However in both cases these are not as bad as they were at the end of 2010, when both parties had negatives in the low 50s.

So What?

These modest improvements are consistent with other indicators that the national mood has improved slightly over the last couple of months. Several polls have shown modest improvements in President Obama's ratings. Consumer confidence has improved a little, as have some of the other leading economic indicators. The stock market made gains for most of the last few months. However many of these numbers are still low by historic standards and the unemployment rate remains very high. Whether the modest uptick we have seen recently is the beginning of an upward trend or just a temporary blip remains to be seen.

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