Poll: Public Attitudes on Fannie, Freddie Extremely Unfavorable

The American Action Forum poll of public attitudes on government-sponsored enterprises indicates over half would rather see Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac disappear.

Apparently Fannie and Freddie, both with a 72% name recognition rate among the 1,200 likely voters who participated in the survey June 17-20, are as disliked as the nation’s largest banks.

AAF surveyed a mix of conservative Democratic and swing voters in 18 congressional districts across the U.S., about finance and potential regulatory reforms and 52% support the phasing out of the housing giants, compared to 32% who see value in preserving the GSEs going forward.

Up to 52% of the respondents view Fannie and Freddie as extremely unfavorable, compared to only 20% favorable.

The most surprising finding, according to Wes Anderson of On Message Inc., who conducted the poll “to gain a better feel for the role of political ideology,” is that both organizations have “near-toxic levels of negativity among the voters.”

These attitudes matter even more as the debate over the future of Fannie and Freddie starts to heat up in Washington. “Voter opinions about Fannie and Freddie and their future all but collapse when reminded about the massive nature of taxpayer bailouts they received,” he concludes.

More specifically, when informed that Fannie and Freddie played an instrumental role in the housing bubble and received nearly $200 billion in a bailout, 59% of participants oppose Fannie and Freddie, including 51% of Democrats.

When it comes to “the effectiveness of recent banking regulations,” 38% think the GSEs have done more harm than good, compared to 41% who believe they have been helpful.

AAF president Douglas Holtz-Eakin is one of those who supports a policy that would phase Fannie and Freddie out, an opinion he appears to share with the public “across party lines.”