51% Approve of the President's Response to Joplin Tornado, But Similar Story For Federal Government

June 07, 2011, 5:00 PM GMT+0

As President Obama visited tornado-stricken Joplin, Missouri this weekend, Americans saw him as caring for the people of Joplin, and approved his overall response to last month’s tornadoes and flooding in the Midwest. But the latest Economist/YouGov Poll finds Americans divided when it comes to confidence in the government’s ability to respond to natural disasters.

The President was on a European trip when the tornadoes struck Joplin, and did not visit the town until a week afterwards. But by 51% to 20%, Americans agreed that he cared about the needs and problems of Joplin residents, and by two to one approved of his response to the disasters. 

Republicans, who typically disapprove overwhelmingly of the President’s handling of issues, disapprove here, too, though by a smaller 41% to 30% margin. And a plurality of Republicans believes that he does cares about the people of Joplin.

Americans support giving federal aid to those hurt by the disasters. Only 4% would not do that. But in this era of deficit reduction, 29% of adults — and half of Republicans — would like to see government spending on disaster relief offset by cuts elsewhere in the budget. 

However, many Americans are dubious about the federal government’s ability to respond to natural disasters. 52% are at least somewhat confident (though just 13% are very confident); 48% are not. Many are reacting along partisan lines: most Republicans are not confident, while Democrats are. 

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