The issues of housing policy and Wall Street criminality have not appeared at the top of the agenda in the Presidential campaign, certainly not among horse race journalists. But new polling shows that this is a major challenge for the President, who is viewed as having failed on housing and foreclosure policy, and as too lenient on Wall Street.
It so happens that some of the most important swing states in the next election are also states with high concentrations of foreclosures, states hit the hardest by the foreclosure crisis. In particular, states like Florida and Nevada are seen as pivotal to the Presidential race, and the Obama campaign wants to compete in the sand state of Arizona. The survey, done by Public Policy Polling for the Campaign for a Fair Settlement, polls voters in those three states, along with Pennsylvania and North Carolina.
The poll asked three questions. On housing policy, it asked whether voters approved or disapproved of President Obama’s handling of the housing and mortgage crisis.
Arizona 30 approve-54 disapprove
Florida 36 approve-50 disapprove
Nevada 34 approve-54 disapprove
North Carolina 41 approve-46 disapprove
Pennsylvania 38 approve-48 disapprove
Where this really shows up is in the partisan breakdown. There’s a partisan split in the polling, with Democrats generally supportive of the President and Republicans opposed. But independents are strongly negative on this question, worse than the overall numbers, from a 26-48 split in Pennsylvania, to 34-56 in North Carolina, to 28-49 in Florida, to 29-52 in Arizona, to a whopping 21-70 in Nevada.
Most respondents agreed on the second question, whether the economic crisis is at least partially the result of “criminal actions by Wall Street executives.” That got anywhere from 69% support in Florida to 77% support in Nevada and Pennsylvania.
Finally, the survey asked, “Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: President Obama has not done enough to hold the banks accountable for their role in the housing collapse?”
Pennsylvania 63 agree-29 disagree
North Carolina 60 agree-32 disagree
Nevada 69 agree-25 disagree
Florida 59 agree-33 disagree
Arizona 65 agree-26 disagree
The support for the statement is much more intense on the agree side, with “strongly agree” getting three to five times as much support from poll respondents as “strongly disagree.” And the independent split virtually matches the topline numbers in all states.
The full poll with crosstabs is available here. The survey was taken April 30 and May 1, before we learned about JPMorgan Chase’s Fail Whale trade, which has renewed attention on financial reform. In a statement, Nish Suvarnakar of Campaign for a Fair Settlement, who commissioned the poll, said, “The President should heed the message independent voters are sending and show stronger leadership on housing… Obama can help homeowners, his campaign and the overall economy by more aggressively pursuing banks’ criminal acts and supporting meaningful solutions for underwater homeowners.”
I’ll have more on this beyond the raw numbers later today. But it’s clear that voters, particularly independents, have ingrained negative views of the President’s performance on housing and Wall Street accountability, and that they will need actions and not words to change their views. And that’s particularly true in states he has to win in November, which happen to correlate with the hardest-hit states from the foreclosure crisis.