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Weeks of Obama's budget sales pitch and support still slips

March 28, 2009 |  1:24 am

Democratic president Barack Obama at a town hall meeting in Costa Mesa California 3-18-09 by Luis Sinco Los Angeles Times

Now, we know why the White House laid on the immense trans-continental public relations offensive over its immense budget these past two-to-three weeks.

The Gallup Poll did another one this week on President Obama's $3,550,000,000,000 budget for fiscal 2010 and found support for it down slightly, disapproval up slightly and even "Don't Knows" also up a bit.

So no big statistical change, right?

Right.

But wait. Add a little context and it can look somewhat different.

Obama took his well-oiled road show to California in that time frame to hold two nationally-televised town hall meetings dominated by budget talk. He went on Jay Leno's show and talked to some 14 million bedtime viewers about the budget. He did a well-watched "60 Minutes" interview last weekend and talked more about the budget. He held a nationally-televised primetime news conference Tuesday and talked endlessly about the budget to an estimated 42 million Americans. His support team mobilized millions of e-mails to gin up supporters across the land to talk up the budget, especially to friends and elected representatives. Other groups ran ads supporting the budget. Obama brings up the ambitious budget at every opportunity. And he drove to Capitol Hill to create even more opportunity for budget news coverage.

The result, according to Gallup: People who feel positively about his budget fell from 44% in late February to 39% this week. People who feel negatively about the budget increased one point to 27% in the same time frame. And after all that budget talk, people who claim to not know enough to have an opinion increased 10% from 30% to 33%.

The budget battles are far from over, of course, even with Obama's own Democratic Party controlling both houses of Congress. (For a video evaluation of Obama's budget claims, scroll down or click on the "Read more" line below.)

But imagine what could have happened to U.S. public opinion on the president's budget if he hadn't invested all that salesmanship. Can he keep it up? And is some public caution creeping in?

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

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