From NBC's Ali Weinberg
President Obama's approval rating dropped from 61% to 56% from April to July, according to a poll released this morning. The National Journal/Allstate Heartland Monitor poll found that critics expressed pessimism "more vociferously" than supporters did optimism, said Ed Reilly, CEO of Financial Dynamics, the firm that conducted the survey.
This suggests that the president and Democrats have "fallen back to earth" in terms of voter enthusiasm, said Ron Brownstein, political director of Atlantic Media, at an event on the poll's release.
The poll also found that although Americans' "faith is flagging" in government and business, an overwhelming majority -- 87% -- still believe America is the "land of opportunity," said , at the release of a new , focused on "the way people maximize opportunity for themselves and their family."
The poll follows up on results from the one done in April, which examined how Americans are managing financial risk. A majority of Americans "continue to believe their fate is in their own hands," Brownstein said. Sixty-seven percent are confident they will be able to get ahead financially in the next five years. Fifty-four percent say they rely on their own skills to get ahead, as opposed to 41% who say the state of the economy will facilitate their success.
Forty percent of respondents said education and training is the best way to increase their skills in the workplace, although a "surprisingly high" percentage of respondents -- 44% -- believe young people today do not need a four-year college education to be successful. Fifty percent consider a college education "an economic burden that is often too expensive," as opposd to 40% who believe it is a "ticket to the middle class" -- a mindset vasly different than that of 10 to 15 years ago, Brownstein said. Fifty-eight percent said they wished they had completed more education, however, suggesting respondents' main aversion to higher education is the cost.
While 54% of respondents said they rely on their own skills to get ahead, the one aspect where a plurality of respondents favored government action was on ensuring the affordability of health care. While 37% said improving their lifestyle was the best way to keep health costs down, 26% favored new government programs and 18% cited tougher government regulation of the insurance industry as the most effective cost-reducing route.