Presidential report card
The Washington Post has published ''A Report Card for Ronnie'' that is of more than passing interest. Based on a random sample of 1,504 Americans between Feb. 25 and March 2, the findings are subject to varying interpretations.
On the one hand, an analyst might say that the public opinions expressed in the survey jibed with new national studies showing the President's disapproval rating very much on the rise. And he might, in support of this thesis, point to these findings of this new ABC-Washington Post poll: To the statement, ''President Reagan is unfair to the poor,'' 62 percent of those polled agreed, 36 percent disagreed, and 2 percent had no opinion. To the statement, ''He is keeping his campaign promises,'' 42 percent agreed, 53 percent disagreed, and 5 percent had no opinion.
A total of 51 percent agreed that ''Reagan is creating an arms race;'' 40 percent disagreed, 9 percent had no opinion. Sixty-two percent said they thought the President did not ''have good ideas for changing the Social Security system.'' Twenty-five percent liked his ideas on this subject. Thirteen percent had no opinion. And to the assertion, ''He is a rich man's president,'' 66 percent agreed; 32 percent disagreed; 2 percent had no opinion.
But take this same poll and one can discover sOme findings that are remarkably supportive of the President - remarkable, that is, in light of how critical many were of Mr. Reagan on some subjects.
For example, in the economic area those polled responded to various assertions as follows: ''He is bringing the country into a depression'' - 56 percent disagreed, 41 percent agreed, 3 percent no opinion. ''He is making a real effort to repair the economy'' - 67 percent agreed, 30 percent disagreed, 3 percent no opinion. ''He is not trying to reduce unemployment'' - 41 percent agreed, 54 percent disagreed, 5 percent no opinion.
To the statement, ''He is starting to change the country in a good way,'' 53 percent agreed, 42 percent disagreed, 5 percent had no opinion. As for 'He is doing better than Carter would,'' 52 percent agreed, 40 percent disagreed, 8 percent had no opinion.
Those who fault Carter's arms and peace policies the most woulm!get what might be called ''mixed'' comfort from the poll. Fifty-one percent agreed that Reagan ''is creating an arms race.'' But to the assertion, ''He will cause a war ,'' 61 percent disagreed.
But it would be easy for another analyst to come to the conclusion that Mr. Reagan remains politically formidable. Consider:
''He is a strong leader'' - 60 percent agreed, 37 percent disagreed, 3 percent no opinion. ''He's not sincere, he's a fake'' - 3l percent agreed, 65 percent disagreed, 4 percent no opinion.
The President did best in the poll when the statements concerned his personal character:
''He is an honest person'' drew a particularly strong affirmative response. Seventy percent agreed he was honest, 20 percent disagreed, 10 percent had no opinion.
Then came the question of trust. Sixty percent said they would trust Mr. Reagan; 37 percent said they would not; 3 percent no opinion.
What about the President's ''principles''? Responding to the statement, ''He sticks to his principles,'' 66 percent of this random group agreed, 30 percent disagreed, 4 percent had no opinion.
One veteran observer of presidential politics looked over the report card and made this comment: ''When most people go to the polls they think more about whether they trust the President and whether he is a man of strength and character than anything else. What this poll says to me is that ReagawP-/ld win an election today - and probably would be reelected if he ran again in 1984.''
A president who is perceived as an honest, trustworthy, and strong leader would indeed be difficult to beat.