President Obama’s Job Rating Shows Small Improvements, but Not Congress’s

    NEW YORK , N.Y. – November 18, 2011 – As we head into Thanksgiving, there is something President Obama may be thankful for – slightly improved approval ratings. While still low, this month one-third of Americans (34%) give the President positive ratings for the overall job he is doing and two-thirds (66%) give him negative marks. This is just slightly up from last month’s numbers of 33% positive and 67% negative, but they arethe best ratings President Obama has seen since mid-summer.

    These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,499 adults surveyed online between November 7 and 14, 2011.

    Not surprisingly, just 4% of Republicans and 9% of Conservatives give President Obama positive ratings. Among Independents, seven in ten (71%) give him negative ratings as do 63% of Moderates. Among the President’s party, while two-thirds of Democrats (66%) give President Obama positive ratings, one-third (34%) give him negative ratings. Liberals feel the same way with 67% giving the President positive marks and 33% giving him negative ratings.

    Where President Obama has less to be thankful for is what Americans think of his handling of the economy. Just over one in five U.S. adults (22%) give him positive marks for the overall job he is doing on the economy while almost four in five (78%) give him negative ratings. This is just slightly down from last month when 23% gave him positive ratings and 77% gave the President negative ratings. And majorities of all parties give President Obama negative ratings on the economy – 96% of Republicans, 85% of Independents and 54% of Democrats.

    Congress and Direction of the Country

    Congress, however, has less to feel thankful for this holiday season as just 5% of Americans give them positive ratings for the job they are doing while 95% give them negative ratings. This is unchanged since last month and consistent among parties; almost all Republicans (95%), Democrats (95%) and Independents (97%) give Congress negative ratings.

    Also unchanged since last month is how people think things are going in the country. Just one in five Americans (20%) say things in the country are going in the right direction while four in five (80%) say things are going off on the wrong track.

    President Obama’s re-election chances

    This year Thanksgiving marks less than one year until the presidential election. And, if the election for president were to be held today, over half of Americans (53%) would be unlikely to vote to re-elect President Obama, two in five (40%) would be likely to vote for him and 7% are not at all sure. Looking at this by party, nine in ten Republicans (93%) and over half of Independents (57%) would be unlikely to vote for him as would 18% of Democrats.

    Looking at what Americans think will happen next November, one-third (32%) think President Obama will be re-elected while less than half (46%) think he will not be re-elected; one-quarter (23%) are not at all sure. Last month, half of Americans (49%) did not think he would be re-elected while three in ten (30%) thought he would be re-elected.

    So What?

    For the next few months the focus will be on the Republicans as they enter the first primaries and caucuses in January. During that time, as he prepares for the general election, President Obama has some time to shore up his base and make overall inroads with Independents. If he doesn’t and six months before the election his job ratings are still below 40% positive, winning re-election will be an extremely difficult task.

     

    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

    November

    34

    66

     

    October

    33

    67

    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

    34

    4

    66

    29

    9

    37

    67

    Excellent

    6

    13

    3

    2

    6

    12

    Pretty good

    28

    4

    53

    26

    7

    32

    55

    NEGATIVE

    66

    96

    34

    71

    91

    63

    33

    Only fair

    29

    24

    27

    28

    21

    36

    23

    Poor

    37

    72

    7

    43

    70

    27

    10

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

     

    TABLE 3

    CONGRESS’S OVERALL JOB RATING

    How would you rate the overall job Congress is doing?

    Base: All adults

     

    Total

    Political Party

    Rep.

    Dem.

    Ind.

    %

    %

    %

    %

    POSITIVE

    5

    5

    5

    3

    Excellent

    *

    *

    1

    *

    Pretty good

    4

    5

    4

    3

    NEGATIVE

    95

    95

    95

    97

    Only fair

    33

    38

    31

    27

    Poor

    62

    57

    64

    70

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

     

    TABLE 4

    CONGRESS’S OVERALL JOB RATING – TREND

    How would you rate the overall job Congress is doing?

    Base: All adults

     

    TREND

    Positive

    Negative

    %

    %

    2011

    November

    5

    95

    October

    5

    95

    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

    November

    20

    80

     

    October

    20

    80

    September

    22

    78

    August

    16

    84

    July

    25

    75

    June

    32

    68

    May

    39

    61

    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.

    Oct.

    Nov.

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Likely

    46

    43

    41

    42

    37

    39

    40

    40

    Very likely

    33

    32

    30

    30

    27

    26

    26

    30

    Somewhat likely

    14

    11

    11

    12

    10

    13

    13

    10

    Unlikely

    47

    49

    52

    52

    55

    53

    54

    53

    Somewhat unlikely

    7

    8

    7

    8

    7

    7

    8

    6

    Very unlikely

    40

    41

    45

    44

    48

    47

    46

    47

    Not at all sure

    6

    8

    6

    6

    7

    8

    6

    7

    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

     

    Total

    Political Party

    Political Ideology

    Rep.

    Dem.

    Ind.

    Cons.

    Mod.

    Lib.

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Likely

    40

    6

    77

    34

    10

    45

    77

    Very likely

    30

    3

    62

    24

    7

    31

    64

    Somewhat likely

    10

    3

    14

    11

    3

    14

    13

    Unlikely

    53

    93

    18

    57

    86

    46

    17

    Somewhat unlikely

    6

    6

    4

    6

    3

    9

    3

    Very unlikely

    47

    87

    14

    51

    83

    37

    14

    Not at all sure

    7

    1

    5

    8

    5

    9

    6

    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.

    Oct.

    Nov.

    Political Party

    Rep.

    Dem.

    Ind.

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    I think he will be re-elected.

    35

    30

    30

    32

    11

    55

    29

    I do not think he will be re-elected.

    42

    47

    49

    46

    76

    22

    47

    Not at all sure.

    23

    23

    21

    23

    13

    23

    24

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

     

    TABLE 9

    PRESIDENT OBAMA’S JOB RATING ON THE ECONOMY – TREND

    Now, turning to something different, how would you rate the overall job that President Barack Obama is doing on the economy?

    Base: All adults

    2009

    March

    April

    May

    June

    Aug

    Sept

    Nov

    Dec

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    POSITIVE (NET)

    47

    49

    46

    43

    39

    40

    34

    36

    Excellent

    13

    13

    10

    3

    9

    7

    6

    6

    Pretty good

    34

    36

    36

    34

    31

    33

    27

    30

    NEGATIVE (NET)

    53

    51

    54

    57

    61

    60

    66

    64

    Only fair

    30

    27

    30

    27

    25

    27

    30

    30

    Poor

    23

    24

    24

    30

    36

    33

    37

    34

    2010

    Jan

    Mar

    Apr

    May

    June

    Aug

    Sept

    Oct

    Nov

    Dec

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    POSITIVE (NET)

    31

    32

    33

    36

    32

    32

    29

    27

    31

    30

    Excellent

    5

    5

    6

    6

    5

    6

    5

    5

    5

    5

    Pretty good

    25

    27

    27

    30

    27

    26

    24

    22

    26

    25

    NEGATIVE (NET)

    69

    68

    67

    64

    68

    68

    71

    73

    69

    70

    Only fair

    31

    30

    31

    29

    32

    29

    31

    33

    30

    34

    Poor

    39

    37

    36

    34

    37

    39

    40

    39

    39

    36

    2011

    Jan

    Feb

    Mar

    May

    June

    July

    Sept.

    Oct.

    Nov.

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    POSITIVE (NET)

    33

    33

    33

    32

    27

    26

    21

    23

    22

    Excellent

    7

    9

    5

    7

    5

    3

    2

    3

    3

    Pretty good

    26

    24

    28

    26

    22

    23

    18

    20

    20

    NEGATIVE (NET)

    67

    62

    67

    68

    73

    74

    79

    77

    78

    Only fair

    30

    22

    29

    28

    30

    33

    33

    36

    32

    Poor

    37

    39

    38

    40

    43

    41

    46

    41

    46

    Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding; In February Not at all sure was offered as a response choice and 4% responded in that way.

     

    TABLE 10

    PRESIDENT OBAMA’S JOB RATING ON THE ECONOMY – BY POLITICAL PARTY

    Now, turning to something different, how would you rate the overall job that President Barack Obama is doing on the economy?

    Base: All adults

    Total

    Political Party

    Philosophy

    Rep.

    Dem.

    Ind.

    Cons.

    Mod.

    Lib.

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    POSITIVE (NET)

    22

    4

    46

    15

    6

    23

    46

    Excellent

    3

    *

    6

    *

    2

    3

    4

    Pretty good

    20

    4

    40

    14

    5

    21

    42

    NEGATIVE (NET)

    78

    96

    54

    85

    94

    77

    54

    Only fair

    32

    16

    40

    33

    17

    39

    38

    Poor

    46

    80

    14

    52

    77

    38

    16

    Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding; * indicates less than .05%

     

    Methodology

    This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between November 7 and 14, 2011 among 2,499 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.

    J40989

    Q1205, 1210, 1215, 1218, 1255, 705

    The Harris Poll® #121, November 18, 2011

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