As Congress debated the financial bailout bill over the past week, public support for government action has declined. A new Pew Research Center survey conducted Sept. 27-29 finds a narrow 45%-38% plurality of the public saying that a government plan to invest or commit billions of dollars to secure financial institutions is the right thing to do. This represents considerably less support than the plan engendered immediately after it was first proposed. A Pew survey conducted Sept. 19-22 had found a wide majority of the public favoring government action (57% right thing, 30% wrong thing).
The public is expressing both fear and loathing about the idea of the government committing billions of dollars to solve the problem. Six-in-ten Americans (61%) say that they feel angry about the government's plan, and half (50%) also admit they are scared. Many report being confused (43%), but relatively few (29%) describe themselves as optimistic.
Anger about the rescue plan crosses party lines, and Republicans, Democrats and independents all offer less support for the idea now than they did at the outset. Among Republicans there has been a 15-point decline – from 64% to 49% – in the share saying the bailout is the right thing to do. Support among Democrats has fallen 10 points from 56% to 46%. As a consequence, while Republicans were slightly more supportive initially, support for the plan is now about the same among Republicans, Democrats and independents.
Read the full report Small Plurality Backs Bailout Plan on the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press Web site.