For President Obama, the auto industry bailout has gone from a political liability
to central plank of his reelection campaignAccording to Pew's latest survey (conducted February 8-12 and 16-20 with a margin of error of ±3%), 56 percent of the American public now believes the auto bailouts were mostly a good thing for the economy. Just 38 percent disagrees, a huge shift from October, 2009 when 54 percent thought the bailouts were mostly bad for the economy and 37 percent thought they were good.
As Greg Sargent points out, support for the bailouts is broad-based?even moderate Republicans and non-college whites approve of having saved the auto industry.
But while there's been a big turnaround in support for rescuing the auto industry, the Wall Street bailout remains unpopular, with just 39 percent of Americans saying they believe it was a good thing. Both Mitt Romney and President Obama supported TARP, but the key difference is that while Romney only approved of bank bailouts, President Obama also supported the auto bailout. Romney attempted to explain his position during last night's debate, but didn't do himself any favors, ultimately saying that it was more important to save the banking industry than the auto manufacturing industry.
The poll also showed a slight improvement in attitudes about the stimulus. In 2009, 49 percent disapproved of it. That number has dropped eight points to 41 percent. Still, approval remains below 40 percent at 37.