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L.A Times/Bloomberg poll: Views on the U.S. economy a bit better

August 20, 2008 |  6:58 pm

As gasoline prices have dropped somewhat in most parts of the country, attitudes about the economy have marginally improved, according to the new L.A. Times/Bloomberg poll.

Also, in this era of sharp and persistent partisan divides, the survey finds there are some matters the vast majority of Americans can agree on -- namely, that the job performances of President Bush and, even more so, lawmakers on Capitol Hill leave much to be desired.

Asked to rate the nation's economy, 76% of those interviewed from Friday through Monday termed it in sad shape. That's a big number, but it's down from the 82% who gave the economy a poor grade in a comparable poll in June.

Also, poll director Susan Pinkus notes that those saying the economy is doing well rose to 22% this month, compared to 15% in the June survey.

The public's perception on Bush underscored why so many political analysts see it as essential to John McCain's presidential hopes that he disassociate himself as much as possible from his fellow Republican. Bush's approval/disapproval rating stands at 25%/71% in the new poll. Two months ago, it was roughly the same, 23%/73%.

The view of Congress is worse; even as Democrats seem poised to increase their majorities in both the House and Senate, the public gives failing marks to the institution they control. Just 17% said they approved of the way Congress is handling its job; 73% expressed disapproval.

Given those numbers, it's no surprise McCain revels in saying on the campaign trail -- almost always to an appreciative laugh -- that the two things lawmakers never miss are a pay raise and a vacation. He does not add that he has served in the House or Senate since 1983.

-- Don Frederick