Poll: Dems Hold The Upper Hand In Financial Reform Debate

April 26, 2010 6:51 a.m.

A new ABC News/Washington Post poll suggests that Democrats can move forward on financial reform with the confidence that the public stands behind them.

An overwhelming majority of Americans want increased government oversight of the nation’s financial infrastructure as the country slowly begins to recover from the collapse of 2007, the poll finds. Sixty-five percent said they support “stricter federal regulations on the way banks and other financial institutions conduct their business.” That’s good news for a White House that chose financial reform as the next legislative fight after the divisive health care debate.

The poll shows that Americans lean toward favoring the specifics Democratic financial reform agenda, though they still don’t understand some of it. On the politics side, however, the public seems to have made up its mind about who to trust on reform: 52% say they trust President Obama to reform the system, while just 35% say they trust the Republicans in Congress to do a better job.The Democratic advantage extends to the all-important independent voting bloc. Independents said they trust Obama over the GOP on financial reform by a margin of 47-35, with 16% saying they trusted neither side to handle the issue.

The poll shows majorities of all voters support the specifics of the Democratic proposals, including the plan for a bank-funded fund to pay for breaking up failing banks in the future as well as proposals to add government oversight of how banks award loans to customers.

But when it comes to derivatives reform, close to a fifth of respondents didn’t know what to think. Forty three percent said they supported “having the federal government regulate the complex financial instruments known as derivatives” while 41% said the opposed it. Seventeen percent said they had “no opinion.”

By contrast, just 5% said they had “no opinion” on the bailout fund idea.

The poll of 1,001 Americans was conducted Apr. 22-25 by telephone, and has a 3% margin of error.

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