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Zogby Interactive: 71 percent don't like 'bank bailouts,' but small majorities see necessity of government intervention

UTICA, New York - More than seven in 10 likely voters do not favor the federal government's "bank bailouts," but small majorities do agree that the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) was necessary, helped stabilize the economy and may have averted a Depression.

Those results come from a Zogby Interactive poll of 2,063 likely voters that was conducted from May 14-17 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.2%.

Near the beginning of the survey, which also included several other topics, 71% of voters said their opinion of the "bank bailouts" that began in September 2008 was unfavorable, including 43% who chose very unfavorable.

Later, in the TARP section of the survey, which describedthe program as "federal actions to purchase 'troubled' assets and equity from financial institutions," there were some instances where majorities had positive opinions about TARP.

* 53% said the actions taken through TARP were necessary.

* 52% agreed that "if federal purchases of troubled assets and equity had not taken place, the economy might have experienced a depression."

* 57% said it was likely that the U.S. Treasury will continue to be able to sell stock purchased through TARP for more than the price Treasury paid for the stock.

* 54% said TARP would be a success if the federal government is able to recoup nearly all of the money invested in troubled banks.

Negative reactions to TARP were reflected in opinions about federal intervention of funds into private banking and how the banks responded to it.

* 57% agreed that "regardless of how necessary or successful the Troubled Asset Relief Program may turn out to be, the federal government should never purchase the equity or assets of private banks."

* When given two statements about TARP and asked to choose the one with which they most agreed, 53% chose: "Big bank executives abused the Troubled Asset Relief Program by giving themselves big salaries and bonuses, and escaped any responsibility for the failed risks that they took compared to the 25% that picked: 'Federal money invested in troubled banks prevented the economy from being even worse, and may have reduced even greater hardship to the general public.'"

Partisan Differences

Democrats and liberals were more likely than Republicans or independents to have favorable opinions of "bank bailouts" and of the benefits of TARP.