President Obama has stabilized his public standing in the effort to win passage of comprehensive health reform, but still confronts significant skepticism as Congress enters the decisive phase of legislative action.
In the midst of the president's heavy blitz in support of his health care plan, just 39% of Americans call it a good idea in a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll; 41% call it a bad idea. But that's slightly better than the 36% support and 42% disapproval in the NBC/WSJ survey in August.
Similarly, 53% say the quality of health care will improve or stay the same under Obama's plan, up from 51% in August. And by a 45%-39% plurality, Americans say it would be better for Congress to enact Mr. Obama's plan rather than to leave the health care system as it is.
The telephone poll of 1,005 adults, conducted Sept 17-20, carries a margin for error of 3.1 percentage points.
Mr. Obama's own job approval rating held steady over the past month at 51%, though that level is down from the 61% mark he received in April. By a 48% to 39% plurality, Americans say the country is headed in the wrong direction.
Rising Economic Confidence
The survey points to slightly greater public confidence in the economy, which in turn has helped to swell the ranks of those concerned about the budget deficit. By 62% to 30%, Americans say the president and Congress should focus on reducing the budget deficit rather than boosting the economy.
But the economic improvement shows no sign yet of benefiting Mr. Obama's party in advance of 2010 Congressional elections. Just 22% say they approve of Congress' job performance, down from 29% in June. And just 43% say they want Democrats to retain control of Congress in 2010, down from 46% in July; 40% want Republicans to win control.
Nearly half of all Americans—47%—now believe the nation's economy will get better over the next 12 months, according to the nationwide poll of 1,005 adults that was conducted Sept. 17-20. That's up from 44% in July, the last time the poll was taken.
As for job security, 36% said they were very satisfied, up from 30% in July.
A majority of Americans—52%—still believes the economy has a way to go before hitting bottom, though that's less then the 58% that believed so in July. And 35% believe the economy has hit bottom, up from 27% two months ago.
The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.