Almost Half of Americans Do Not Think President Obama Will be Re-Elected

    NEW YORK , N.Y. – September 22, 2011 – After a spirited speech to Congress and presenting his jobs bill President Obama starts the fall with the same approval ratings he had at the end of the summer. This month, exactly the same as in August, just one-third of Americans (32%) give the president positive ratings on the overall job he is doing while two-thirds (68%) give him negative ratings.

    These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,462 adults surveyed online between September 12 and 19, 2011.

    Looking at the ratings on a partisan level, it’s not shocking that almost all Republicans (96%) and nine in ten Conservatives (90%) give the President negative marks, but so do seven in ten Independents (71%) and almost two-thirds of Moderates (64%). While majorities of Democrats (58%) and Liberals (53%) still give the President positive marks, large enough numbers of both groups of the President’s traditional supporters (42% of Democrats and 47% 0f Liberals) give him negative ratings, giving the White House and the re-election team a bit to be concerned about.

    While the President’s ratings may continue to be at his lowest, one small piece of comfort he has is that he is doing a better job than Congress. Right now, almost all Americans (94%) have a negative view of the overall job Congress is doing and just 6% give them positive ratings. This low rating transcends party lines as only 7% of both Democrats and Republicans and 5% of Independents give Congress positive marks.

    What has bounced back just slightly from last month is the number of people who think the country is going in the right direction. This month, 22% think the country is heading in the right direction while 78% think things have gotten off on the wrong track. While still low, this is better than in August when only 16% thought things were going in the right direction and 84% said they were going off on the wrong track.

    One reason for all the negativity is the concern over economic issues. When asked what the two most important issues for the government to address are, half of Americans (50%) say it is employment and jobs. Another quarter say the government needs to address the economy (27%), while 17% say healthcare, 13% say the budget deficit, 11% say the budget and government spending and 7% each say taxes and social security.

    Looking to next November

    Even more disturbing for the White House are the numbers on likelihood of voting for President Obama. If the election for president were to be held today, over half of Americans (53%) say they would be unlikely to vote for Barack Obama while 39% say they would be likely to vote for him. Almost half (47%) say they would be very unlikely to vote for President Obama. Looking at this on a partisan level, nine in ten Republicans (92%) say they are unlikely to vote for President Obama as are three in five Independents (59%). Even among the two groups who are the President’s more staunch supporters over one in five of both Liberals (23%) and Democrats (21%) say they are unlikely to vote for the President if the election were to be held today.

    What is another concern is something that could become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Just three in ten Americans (30%) think President Obama will be re-elected while almost half (47%) do not think he will be re-elected; one-quarter (23%) are not at all sure. While 51% of Democrats believe President Obama will be re-elected, one-quarter do not (24%) and one-quarter are not at all sure (24%).

    So What?

    As multiple political commentators have said, the 2012 general re-election campaign began with President Obama’s recent address to Congress. Yes, the Republicans still have to pick their candidate, but the President is starting to push forward the agenda he hopes to work his re-election campaign around next year. If he doesn’t do something and stays mired in these low approval numbers and negative re-elect numbers, this election may be over before it even starts. The only consolation is that the GOP primary looks like it may be a long one and the eventual Republican candidate may emerge tired and possibly wounded after a blistering primary.

     

    TABLE 1

    PRESIDENT OBAMA’S JOB RATING – TREND

    How would you rate the overall job President Barack Obama is doing?

    Base: All adults

     

    TREND

    Positive

    Negative

    %

    %

    2011

    September

    32

    68

     

    August

    32

    68

    July

    38

    62

    June

    38

    62

    May 19th

    45

    55

    May 9th

    46

    54

    April

    38

    62

    March

    39

    61

    Feb.

    42

    58

    Jan.

    44

    56

    2010

    Dec.

    36

    64

     

    Nov.

    38

    62

    Oct.

    37

    63

    Sept.

    38

    62

    Aug.

    40

    60

    June

    39

    61

    May

    42

    58

    April

    41

    59

    March

    41

    59

    Jan.

    40

    60

    2009

    Dec.

    41

    59

     

    Nov.

    43

    57

    Oct.

    45

    55

    Sept.

    49

    51

    Aug.

    51

    49

    June

    54

    46

    May

    59

    41

    April

    58

    42

    March

    55

    45

    Positive = excellent or pretty good. Negative = only fair or poor.

     

    TABLE 2

    PRESIDENT OBAMA’S JOB RATING – BY PARTY & IDEOLOGY

    How would you rate the overall job President Barack Obama is doing?

    Base: All adults

     

    Total

    Political Party

    Political Ideology

    Rep.

    Dem.

    Ind.

    Cons.

    Mod.

    Lib.

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    POSITIVE

    32

    4

    58

    29

    10

    36

    53

    Excellent

    5

     

    12

    3

    3

    4

    8

    Pretty good

    27

    4

    46

    27

    7

    32

    45

    NEGATIVE

    68

    96

    42

    71

    90

    64

    47

    Only fair

    30

    25

    34

    31

    18

    35

    35

    Poor

    38

    71

    9

    40

    71

    28

    11

    Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

     

    TABLE 3

    CONGRESS’ OVERALL JOB RATING

    How would you rate the overall job Congress is doing?

    Base: All adults

     

    Total

    Political Party

    Rep.

    Dem.

    Ind.

    %

    %

    %

    %

    POSITIVE

    6

    7

    7

    5

    Excellent

    *

    *

    *

    1

    Pretty good

    6

    7

    7

    4

    NEGATIVE

    94

    93

    93

    95

    Only fair

    35

    45

    29

    31

    Poor

    59

    48

    63

    64

    Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

     

    TABLE 4

    CONGRESS’ OVERALL JOB RATING – TREND

    How would you rate the overall job Congress is doing?

    Base: All adults

     

    TREND

    Positive

    Negative

    %

    %

    2011

    September

    6

    94

     

    August

    5

    95

    July

    8

    92

    June

    11

    89

    May 19th

    12

    88

    May 9th

    13

    87

    April

    8

    92

    March

    10

    90

    February

    14

    86

    January

    16

    84

    2010

    December

    11

    89

     

    November

    13

    87

    October

    11

    89

    September

    13

    87

    August

    15

    85

    June

    14

    86

    May

    15

    85

    April

    16

    84

    March

    10

    90

    Jan.

    16

    84

    2009

    Dec.

    17

    83

     

    Oct.

    16

    84

    Sept.

    19

    81

    Aug.

    22

    78

    June

    25

    75

    March

    29

    71

    2008

    October

    10

    86

     

    August

    18

    77

    June

    13

    83

    February

    20

    76

    2007

    December

    17

    79

     

    October

    20

    77

    April

    27

    69

    February

    33

    62

    2006

    September

    24

    73

     

    May

    18

    80

    February

    25

    71

    January

    25

    72

    Positive = excellent or pretty good. Negative = only fair or poor.

     

    TABLE 5

    RIGHT DIRECTION OR WRONG TRACK

    Generally speaking, would you say things in the country are going in the right direction or have they pretty seriously gotten off on the wrong track?

    Base: All adults

     

    TREND

    Right Direction

    Wrong Track

    %

    %

    2011

    September

    22

    78

    August

    16

    84

    July

    25

    75

    June

    32

    68

    May

    39

    61

    April

    26

    74

    January

    37

    63

    2010

    December

    29

    71

     

    April

    39

    61

    2009

    August

    46

    54

     

    January

    19

    72

    2008

    October

    11

    83

     

    February

    23

    69

    2007

    December

    18

    74

     

    February

    29

    62

    2006

    May

    24

    69

     

    February

    32

    59

    2005

    November

    27

    68

     

    January

    46

    48

    2004

    September

    38

    57

     

    June

    35

    59

    2003

    December

    35

    57

     

    June

    44

    51

    2002

    December

    36

    57

     

    June

    46

    48

    2001

    December

    65

    32

     

    June

    43

    52

    2000

    October

    50

    41

     

    June

    40

    51

    1999

    June

    37

    55

     

    March

    47

    45

    1998

    December

    43

    51

     

    June

    48

    44

    1997

    December

    39

    56

    April

    36

    55

    1996

    December

    38

    50

    June

    29

    64

    1995

    December

    26

    62

    June

    24

    65

    1994

    December

    29

    63

    June

    28

    65

    1993

    June

    21

    70

     

    March

    39

    50

    1992

    June

    12

    81

     

    January

    20

    75

    1991

    December

    17

    75

     

    January

    58

    32

     

    TABLE 6

    VOTING FOR PRESIDENT OBAMA

    If the election for president were to be held today, how likely would you be to vote for the current president, Barack Obama?

    Base: All adults

     

    May 9

    May 19

    June

    July

    August

    Sept.

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Likely

    46

    43

    41

    42

    37

    39

    Very likely

    33

    32

    30

    30

    27

    26

    Somewhat likely

    14

    11

    11

    12

    10

    13

    Unlikely

    47

    49

    52

    52

    55

    53

    Somewhat unlikely

    7

    8

    7

    8

    7

    7

    Very unlikely

    40

    41

    45

    44

    48

    47

    Not at all sure

    6

    8

    6

    6

    7

    8

    Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

     

    TABLE 7

    VOTING FOR PRESIDENT OBAMA – BY POLITICAL PARTY

    If the election for president were to be held today, how likely would you be to vote for the current president, Barack Obama?

    Base: All adults

     

    Sept.

    Political Party

    Political Ideology

    Rep.

    Dem.

    Ind.

    Cons.

    Mod.

    Lib.

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Likely

    39

    6

    72

    37

    12

    45

    69

    Very likely

    26

    4

    54

    20

    8

    28

    52

    Somewhat likely

    13

    3

    17

    17

    4

    16

    17

    Unlikely

    53

    92

    21

    53

    85

    45

    23

    Somewhat unlikely

    7

    5

    7

    8

    4

    8

    8

    Very unlikely

    47

    86

    14

    45

    81

    37

    15

    Not at all sure

    8

    2

    7

    10

    3

    10

    8

    Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

     

    TABLE 8

    LIKELIHOOD OF OBAMA’S RE-ELECTION

    If you had to say now, do you think that President Obama will be re-elected, or not?

    Base: All adults

     

    July

    Sept.

    Political Party

    Rep.

    Dem.

    Ind.

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    I think he will be re-elected.

    35

    30

    11

    51

    27

    I do not think he will be re-elected.

    42

    47

    74

    24

    49

    Not at all sure.

    23

    23

    15

    24

    24

    Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

     

    TABLE 9

    MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE

    What do you think are the two most important issues for the government to address?

    Spontaneous, unprompted replies

    Base: All adults

    ’97

    ’98

    ’99

    ’00

    ’01

    ’02

    ’03

    ’04

    ’05

    ’06

    07

    08

    09

    09

    10

    10

    10

    ’11

    ’11

    ’11

    May

    Jan

    Feb

    Aug

    Dec

    Dec

    June

    Oct

    Aug

    June

    Oct

    Oct

    Mar

    Nov

    Jan

    Apr

    Nov

    Jan

    May

    Sept

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Employment/jobs

    5

    3

    4

    4

    7

    8

    8

    10

    3

    7

    5

    5

    21

    24

    31

    34

    36

    33

    33

    50

    The economy (non-specific)

    8

    9

    7

    5

    32

    34

    25

    28

    19

    14

    13

    64

    50

    34

    32

    27

    33

    24

    29

    27

    Healthcare (not Medicare)

    10

    11

    12

    15

    5

    10

    14

    18

    11

    12

    25

    22

    25

    47

    45

    34

    30

    35

    18

    17

    Budget deficit/National debt

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    3

    X

    X

    8

    8

    12

    17

    13

    Budget/Government spending

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    5

    6

    2

    6

    11

    7

    9

    10

    13

    9

    11

    Taxes

    14

    16

    12

    13

    6

    5

    11

    8

    5

    4

    3

    6

    4

    4

    4

    7

    7

    6

    4

    7

    Social security

    6

    6

    24

    16

    3

    2

    4

    4

    10

    5

    3

    3

    1

    2

    1

    2

    4

    3

    3

    7

    Immigration

    2

    1

     

    1

    1

    1

    2

    2

    3

    20

    12

    3

    4

    5

    5

    7

    8

    8

    10

    6

    Education

    15

    14

    21

    25

    12

    11

    13

    7

    8

    7

    6

    6

    5

    5

    5

    6

    6

    7

    7

    5

    Wars/Armed conflicts

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    6

    3

    Environment

    3

    2

    3

    3

    1

    3

    2

    1

    3

    3

    3

    2

    3

    4

    3

    3

    2

    2

    2

    3

    Foreign policy (non-specific)

    3

    5

    4

    3

    2

    4

    2

    3

    2

    2

    4

    2

    3

    2

    2

    2

    2

    1

    1

    3

    Gas and oil prices

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    1

    1

    10

    8

    2

    1

    1

    1

     

    1

    1

    1

    12

    2

    Bipartisanship

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    1

    1

    2

    Military/defense

    2

    2

    2

    4

    4

    1

    5

    3

    1

    4

    2

    2

    2

    1

    1

    1

    1

    1

    1

    2

    (Programs for) the poor/ poverty

    3

    2

    2

    3

    1

    2

    3

    *

    4

    4

    4

    *

    1

    2

    2

    1

    2

    3

    2

    2

    Downsizing government

    X

    X

    X

    1

     

    X

    X

    1

    *

    1

    1

     

    1

    2

    2

    3

    2

    2

    1

    2

    Housing

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    1

    1

     

    *

    1

    2

    2

    6

    1

    1

    1

    1

    2

    1

    2

    Obama/president

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    1

    *

    *

    1

    1

    1

    1

    *

    1

    1

    Medicare

    4

    5

    5

    6

    1

    1

    4

    3

    2

    1

    3

    2

    *

     

    *

    *

    *

    2

    1

    2

    1

    Human/civil/women’s rights

    2

    1

    *

    1

    1

    1

    *

    1

    1

    1

    2

    *

    *

    1

    1

    *

    1

    1

    1

    1

    Welfare

    14

    8

    4

    2

    1

    1

    3

     

    3

    1

    2

    *

    *

    1

    *

    1

    1

    1

     

    1

    National security

    X

    X

    2

    2

    6

    3

    6

    5

    2

    2

    2

    5

    2

    1

    4

    3

    1

    1

    1

    1

    (The) war

    X

    X

    X

    X

    12

    18

    8

    35

    41

    27

    24

    14

    9

    9

    2

    6

    4

    3

    *

    1

    Ethics in government

     

     

     

     

    1

    1

    1

    1

    1

    1

    1

    1

    1

    1

    1

    1

    1

    1

    *

    1

    Homeland/domestic security/public safety

    X

    X

    X

    X

    8

    9

    3

    6

    2

    2

    2

    1

    2

    1

    1

    1

    1

    1

    1

    1

    Infrastructure

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    *

    1

    1

    Inflation

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    1

    2

    3

     

    1

    1

     

     

    1

    1

    1

    1

    Terrorism

    X

    X

    X

    X

    22

    17

    11

    7

    7

    4

    4

    3

    4

    3

    6

    2

    2

    2

    4

    1

    Energy

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    1

    1

    4

    4

    1

    4

    3

    1

    1

    2

    1

    1

    2

    1

    Crime/violence

    19

    13

    8

    10

    1

    2

    3

    1

    3

    2

    2

    1

    *

    1

    1

    1

    *

    1

    1

    Afghanistan

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    *

    1

    *

    Homelessness

    4

    4

    3

    3

    2

    2

    1

    *

    1

    1

    3

     

     

    1

    1

    *

    *

    1

    *

    Business accountability/bailouts

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    1

    1

    *

    Religion (decline of)

     

    1

    *

    1

    2

    1

    1

    1

    *

    1

    1

    *

    *

    *

    *

    1

    1

    *

    *

    Same sex rights

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    1

    1

    2

    *

    *

    1

    1

    1

    1

    1

    *

    *

    Iraq

     

     

    1

    X

    X

    11

    3

    9

    6

    8

    14

    7

    2

    4

    2

    2

    1

    *

    *

    Abortion

    2

    2

    2

    6

    1

    1

    1

    4

    2

    1

    2

    1

    1

    1

    1

    *

    *

    *

    *

    Programs for the elderly (not Medicare/Social Security)

    1

    1

    1

    2

    1

    1

    3

    *

    *

    *

    1

    1

    *

    *

    *

    *

    *

    *

    *

    Income gap/Wealth distribution/Middle class

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    1

    1

    x

    Overspending/wasting money

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    2

    x

    Judicial/Legal Issues

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    *

    2

    1

    1

    *

    1

    1

    1

    1

    *

    *

    *

    x

    Other

    8

    19

    2

    19

    3

    8

    8

    8

    1

    6

    5

    15

    5

    3

    1

    3

    6

    5

    3

    6

    Not sure/refused/no issue

    9

    12

    16

    18

    11

    10

    12

    9

    8

    6

    8

    4

    4

    3

    2

    2

    2

    4

    4

    3

    * = Less than 0.5%, X = Not mentioned as specific issue

    Note: Prior to March, 2009, this question was asked via telephone

     

    Methodology

    This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between September 12 and 19, 2011 among 2,462 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

    All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words margin of error as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

    Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

    These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

    The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

    J40805

    Q1205, 1208, 1210, 1215, 1218, 1250

    The Harris Poll® #101, September 22, 2011

    By Regina A. Corso, SVP, Harris Poll, Public Relations and Youth Research