President Obama’s economic policies do not appear to be resonating with the broader American public, but the effort to label him very liberal or a socialistalso appears to have little traction so far, according to the latest CNBC All-America Economic Survey.
The poll of 800 Americans throughout the country finds that Americans give the apparent Republican President nominee Mitt Romney the edge on whose polices would be best for the economy by a 39 percent to 33 percent margin, about unchanged from April.
But only third of the public calls President Obama very liberal, down six points from an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll in June 2009. And the 47 percent of Americans who label Obama very or somewhat liberal represents a ten point drop in the period. Compared with Romney, Americans in the CNBC survey by a 44 percent to 34 percent margin are more likely to say the President’s policies are “just right” when it comes to business.
CNBC’s pollsters, Hart-McInturff, which combine Democratic and Republican polling companies, suggest different reasons for the decline in Americans calling the president liberal. They say the main issue that earned him the moniker, health care, has receded into the political background.
They add the president is perceived to be strong on defense issues, including the killing of Osama Bin Laden and stepped up military action in Afghanistan, which are typically not associated with liberal policies. One pollster suggested the poll shows the issue has little traction with the public; another said it just shows Republicans have more work to do to promote the idea.
However, in a potentially worrisome sign for the President, there has been a noticeable six-point rise among Americans saying they are unsure of how to characterize the president’s policies.
There has been a nearly equal decline in those Americans calling the president a moderate.
And, so far, efforts to label Romney as too conservative or too close to business have not succeeded. Just a third of the public say the Republican’s policies are too biased in favor of business and just 20 percent of the public call him “very conservative.” About a quarter of the public label Romney a moderate, six points below Mr. Obama’s moderate percentage. Still, 22 percent of the public say they are unsure how to label Mr. Romney.
In a development that could put Romney in a tough position, American’s appetite for deficit reduction appears to be on the wane. Asked what they would prefer instead of the automatic budget cuts recently enacted by Congress, 55 percent of the public wanted a plan with fewer cuts, up from 43 percent in November when we last asked the question. Just 12 percent of the public wants Congress to push ahead with the existing plan, and 22 percent want more cuts.
In a some contradictory response, however, 45 percent of the public say it is very or somewhat likely that Americas debt level could result in a Greek-style financial crisis.
-By CNBC's Steve Liesman
Follow Steve Liesman on Twitter: @steveliesman