Ronald Reagan leaves office with his personal popularity intact but with Americans viewing him unfavorably on many policy issues, a Media General-Associated Press poll has found.
Most respondents viewed Reagan's performance negatively on social and governmental issues such as education and ethics. A majority also rated his judgment unfavorably.Yet Reagan retained his enormous personal approval. A vast two-thirds endorsed the way he has done his job overall. Many said history will view him positively, and 55 percent said he has made the country better.
The national survey of 1,084 adults found two factors at the heart of Reagan's popularity: high ratings for his leadership and a belief that his economic policies the past eight years have been good.
Reagan also was scored highly for his handling of defense and U.S.-Soviet relations. And he was seen as an effective president: More than six in 10 said he has accomplished most of what he set out to do.
The survey was conducted Nov. 10-20, shortly after Vice President George Bush was elected Reagan's successor. Despite Reagan's popularity, a majority said they would not have supported him for a third term as president.
He leaves office Jan. 20.
Reagan's ratings were high on personal qualities: Two-thirds ranked his leadership ability as excellent or good and three-quarters favorably rated his charisma and his ability to communicate.
Six in 10 also ranked him positively for his accomplishments in office overall. But Reagan did less well on another attribute, his judgment as president, with 53 percent rating him negatively.
Reagan's popularity flagged on social issues. On civil rights, 51 percent rated him negatively; on education, 54 percent were negative; on housing, 65 percent; on welfare, 67 percent. Also, six in 10 rated him negatively on his handling of ethics in government.
Respondents were about evenly split on another issue, Reagan's selection of federal judges. But on two other issues he scored strongly: Seven in 10 rated him favorably on defense, eight in 10 on U.S.-Soviet relations.
The poll gave four options per issue - "excellent" or "good" as positive choices, "only fair" or "poor" as negatives. Reagan fared worst among Democrats but was seen negatively by independents on several issues. Republicans endorsed him on most issues but not on the deficit, welfare or housing.
Reagan's ratings were mixed even on economics. While nearly two-thirds said his economic policies have been beneficial, 80 percent negatively viewed his handling of the federal budget deficit.
Moreover, 54 percent said the poor are worse off economically as a result of his policies, and 72 percent said wealthy Americans are better off. Opinion was more divided on the middle class: a third called it worse off, a quarter said it was better off and the rest saw little change.
Thirty-five percent said they and their families were better off as a result of Reagan's efforts, to just 18 percent worse off. But when asked to score his handling of the economy, respondents split - half viewing him positively, half negatively.
On another issue, foreign policy excluding Soviet relations, six in 10 viewed Reagan favorably.