Gallup shows stimulus support

GALLUP SHOWS STIMULUS SUPPORT…. There may be a bill to start scrutinizing early next week, but in the meantime, the general outline of Obama’s economic rescue plan seems to enjoy generally strong public support.

A narrow majority of Americans favor the Democratic leadership’s efforts to put a $775 billion economic stimulus package on President-elect Barack Obama’s desk quickly after he takes office. A Gallup poll released yesterday found 53 percent in favor of such a bill, 36 percent opposed.

Broader majorities backed several specific components of Obama’s plan — including tax cuts for individuals, families and businesses and increased spending on infrastructure — while fewer were in favor of expanded aid to state governments.

Along party lines, Democrats expressed broadest support for the overall plan (67 percent), followed by a slim majority of independents who backed it (54 percent); 34 percent of Republicans said they support the bill. Ideological leanings, however, further divide the GOP. Moderate and liberal Republicans were about evenly split on the plan (46 percent in favor, 44 percent opposed), while conservative GOPers tilted heavily against the package (68 percent opposed it).

Interestingly enough, spending on infrastructure was the single most popular aspect of a stimulus package, regardless of party or ideology. In all, 78% of Americans approve of increased infrastructure investment. It led Jed to note, “The lesson here is simple: it’s not only good economics to fund every single “shovel-ready” (or nearly ready) reinvestment project in America through this stimulus plan, it is also great politics.”

I think that’s right, but I’m also curious what the polls would look like if Obama were talking about an even more ambitious proposal. A majority of Americans believe the president-elect is on the right track, and voters are prepared to endorse his plan. But I suspect this has less to do with the specifics and more to do with the broader political dynamic — Americans a) appreciate the severity of the crisis; b) trust and like Obama; and c) expect a stimulus plan to pass.

When the dollar figure for Obama’s plan is $775 billion, it enjoys majority support. But I’d hazard a guess that the polls wouldn’t be too terribly different if respondents were asked if they approved of an Obama plan totaling $875 billion or $975 billion.

If Obama presents his case, and says the boldest plan possible is the necessary course, I suspect most Americans are willing to endorse the proposal, regardless of price tag.