President and Congress at Lowest Approval Ratings Ever

    NEW YORK , N.Y. – August 18, 2011 – After weeks of bad economic news and battling Congress over the debt ceiling and deficit discussions, President Obama is heading off for a little vacation time with his family to end the summer. Unfortunately, he is also ending the summer with the lowest approval ratings of his presidency so far. This month, 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. Last month, almost two in five (38%) gave the president positive marks while 62% gave him negative ones.

    These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,450 adults surveyed online between August 8 and 15, 2011.

    Looking at the ratings on a partisan level, it’s not shocking that almost all Republicans (95%) and nine in ten Conservatives (92%) give the president negative marks, but so do almost three-quarters of Independents (73%) and two-thirds of Moderates (64%). Certain groups are probably more divided than the White House would probably like as two in five of both Democrats (39%) and Liberals (43%) have a negative opinion of the job President Obama is doing.

    While the President’s ratings may 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 (95%) have a negative view of the overall job Congress is doing and just 5% give them positive ratings. This is a further drop from last month when 8% of U.S. adults gave them positive marks and 92% gave them negative ones.

    Continuing the trend of low ratings, more than four in five Americans (84%) say things in the country have pretty seriously gotten off on the wrong track and just 16% say things are going in the right direction. Last month, one-quarter (25%) said things were going in the right direction and 75% said they had gotten off on the wrong track. There have only been two other times since 1991 when this number has been lower: June of 1992, when just 12% of Americans thought things were going in the right direction and October of 2008 when 11% felt this way.

    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 (55%) say they would be unlikely to vote for Barack Obama while 37% say they would be likely to vote for him. Almost half (48%) say they would be very unlikely to vote for President Obama. This is down from last month when 52% of Americans said they were unlikely to vote for the current president and 42% were likely to do so.

    Again, looking at this on a partisan level, nine in ten Republicans (92%) and Conservatives (88%) say they are unlikely to vote for President Obama as are three in five Independents (59%). Among Moderates, half (50%) say they are unlikely to vote for the President while 43% are likely to do so and 8% are not at all sure. Even among the two groups who are the President’s more staunch supporters one in five of both Liberals (21%) and Democrats (21%) say they are unlikely to vote for the President if the election were to be held today.

    So What?

    There is no arguing that all politicians had a very rough July and early August and Americans are telling them with these current numbers that they are not at all happy with the job they’ve done in these past few weeks. Economic concerns are still top of mind and when people see partisan bickering standing in the way of solving some of these concerns, it definitely irritates them. In a little over a year, all of the House of Representatives, the President, and one-third of the U.S. Senate is up for re-election. If this negativity in the American electorate continues, they should all be very concerned for their election chances.

     

    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

    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

    5

    61

    27

    8

    36

    57

    Excellent

    5

     

    13

    3

    1

    7

    9

    Pretty good

    26

    5

    47

    24

    7

    29

    48

    NEGATIVE

    68

    95

    39

    73

    92

    64

    43

    Only fair

    27

    21

    28

    26

    20

    30

    26

    Poor

    42

    73

    12

    48

    72

    34

    16

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

     

    TABLE 3

    PRESIDENT OBAMA’S JOB RATING – BY REGION, EDUCATION & GENDER

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

    Base: All adults

     

    Total

    Region

    Education

    East

    Midwest

    South

    West

    H.S. or less

    Some college

    College grad

    Post grad

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    POSITIVE

    32

    32

    28

    29

    38

    24

    36

    36

    39

    Excellent

    5

    5

    4

    6

    5

    5

    6

    3

    9

    Pretty good

    26

    27

    24

    23

    33

    19

    30

    33

    30

    NEGATIVE

    68

    68

    72

    71

    62

    76

    64

    64

    61

    Only fair

    27

    30

    30

    24

    24

    28

    24

    26

    29

    Poor

    42

    38

    42

    47

    38

    48

    39

    38

    32

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

     

    TABLE 4

    CONGRESS’ OVERALL JOB RATING

    How would you rate the overall job Congress is doing?

    Base: All adults

     

    Total

    Political Party

    Rep.

    Dem.

    Ind.

    %

    %

    %

    %

    POSITIVE

    5

    4

    8

    3

    Excellent

    *

    *

    1

     

    Pretty good

    4

    4

    7

    3

    NEGATIVE

    95

    96

    92

    97

    Only fair

    30

    37

    31

    24

    Poor

    65

    60

    61

    73

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

     

     

    TABLE 5

    CONGRESS’ OVERALL JOB RATING – TREND

    How would you rate the overall job Congress is doing?

    Base: All adults

     

    TREND

    Positive

    Negative

    %

    %

    2011

    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 6

    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

    August

    16

    84

     

    July

    25

    75

    June

    32

    68

    May

    39

    61

    April

    26

    74

    February

    36

    64

    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 7

    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

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Likely

    46

    43

    41

    42

    37

    Very likely

    33

    32

    30

    30

    27

    Somewhat likely

    14

    11

    11

    12

    10

    Unlikely

    47

    49

    52

    52

    55

    Somewhat unlikely

    7

    8

    7

    8

    7

    Very unlikely

    40

    41

    45

    44

    48

    Not at all sure

    6

    8

    6

    6

    7

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

     

    TABLE 8

    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


    August

    Political Party Political Philosophy

    Rep.

    Dem.

    Ind.

    Cons.

    Mod.

    Lib.

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Likely

    37

    6

    71

    33

    7

    43

    70

    Very likely

    27

    1

    57

    21

    4

    29

    58

    Somewhat likely

    10

    5

    14

    12

    3

    14

    12

    Unlikely

    55

    92

    21

    59

    88

    50

    21

    Somewhat unlikely

    7

    7

    8

    7

    4

    10

    5

    Very unlikely

    48

    85

    14

    52

    84

    40

    15

    Not at all sure

    7

    2

    7

    8

    5

    8

    10

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

     

    Methodology

    This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between August 8 to 15, 2011 among 2,450 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.

    J40515

    Q1205, 1210, 1215, 1218

    The Harris Poll® #91, August 18, 2011

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