HELENA, Mont. — President Barack Obama and some of his signature policies still suffer from low approval ratings in Montana, although most people in the state supported the military's decision to lift its ban on open service by gay men, lesbians and bisexuals, according to a Montana State University-Billings poll released Tuesday.
The poll found 32 percent approved of the president's job performance, the same number as last year, while 58 percent disapproved and less than 11 percent were undecided.
However, less than 10 percent in the poll gave Congress a positive rating, and 58 percent blamed the legislative branch for the budget deficit. Less than 10 percent said the deficit was the president's fault.
The poll surveyed 411 adult residents by telephone on Oct. 17-21 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points.
Obama received even marks for managing foreign relations, with respondents equally split at roughly 40 percent between approval and disapproval. And 46 percent liked Obama on a personal basis, while only 26 percent disliked him and 22 percent were undecided.
The president was given much poorer marks for managing the economy, where only 21 percent thought he was doing a good job and 67 percent said he was doing a bad job. The poll also found that the national health care law and stimulus spending package remained unpopular in Montana.
Obama narrowly lost Montana to Republican nominee John McCain in 2008, receiving 47.2 percent of the vote to McCain's 49.5 percent after campaigning in the state five times. But he came closer than any other Democrat in recent years — George W. Bush won the state by about 20 points in both 2000 and 2004.
Poll respondents were also asked: "Do you support the U.S. military dropping its 'don't ask, don't tell policy.'" The poll found 51 percent supported the decision to get rid of the policy, while 28 percent opposed the decision and 21 percent were undecided.
In the same poll last year, Nearly 50 percent advocated getting rid of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy."
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In September, the military repealed its 18-year-old policy under which gays could serve as long as they didn't openly acknowledge their sexual orientation.
Only 40 percent of the respondents supported the decision to go to war in Afghanistan, while 46 percent opposed it. Just 26 percent said the U.S. was winning that war, while 51 percent said the U.S. wasn't winning and 24 percent were undecided.
Many more — 62 percent — supported intervention in Libya to assist NATO efforts in that country.