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As fears of reform grow, public’s support drops

WASHINGTON – Public confidence in President Barack Obama’s leadership has declined sharply over the summer, amid intensifying opposition to health care reform that threatens to undercut his attempt to enact major changes to the system, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Among all Americans, 49 percent now express confidence that Obama will make the right decisions for the country, down from 60 percent at the 100-day mark in his presidency. Forty-nine percent now say they think he will be able to spearhead significant improvements in the system, down nearly 20 percentage points from before he took office.

As challenges to Obama’s initiatives have mounted over the summer, pessimism in the nation’s direction has risen: Fifty-five percent see things as pretty seriously on the wrong track, up from 48 percent in April.

But there has been a notable increase in optimism about the length of the recession: Half of all Americans expect it to be over within the next 12 months. In February, just 28 percent said it would end that rapidly.

Obama’s economic stimulus plan has come under attack from Republicans, who say it has failed to bring tangible benefits. But in the poll, almost twice as many (43 percent to 23 percent) say the program has made things better as say it has made things worse.

The president’s overall approval rating stands at 57 percent, 12 points lower than its April peak, as disapproval has ticked up to 40 percent, its highest yet.

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