A substantial majority of the American people continues to support Bill Clinton’s economic program, even as an uneasy and critical tone dominates the conversations and discussions of the plan among a remarkably high proportion of the public.  At the same time, the poll also finds most Americans seemingly willing to wait for a personal payoff from the Clinton plan.

A nationwide Times Mirror survey conducted February 20-23 indicates that Clinton gets strong backing for the economic proposals he outlined last week (58% favor, 27% oppose).  But when Americans are asked to characterize their discussions in recent days with friends and neighbors, expressed opinions about the President’s plan are much more divided.  Only 45% of those respondents say the discussions were mostly positive, while about as many (46%) depict their conversations as critical of the Clinton plan.

Americans who are displeased are doing more talking than those who back the President’s initiative.  but these grass roots deliberations can nonetheless erode support for the Clinton program over time among key groups, particularly Perot supporters, who barely give the plan majority approval.

The Clinton program has received more public attention than any presidential policy or proposal in the history of Times Mirror’s public interest surveys.1  Forty-eight percent of Americans say they paid very close attention to news about the economic plan.  No fewer than 64% of respondents polled by the Times Mirror Center say they have discussed the plan over the past five days with friends and neighbors.