Over Half of Americans Say They Would Be Unlikely to Vote for President Obama if Election Were Held Today

    NEW YORK , N.Y. – June 23, 2011 – In May, after announcing the death of Osama bin Laden, President Obama’s approval rating went up 8 points from the previous month. One month later his ratings are back to what they were in April – 38% of Americans give him positive ratings for the job he is doing and 62% give President Obama negative marks. While it is probably not surprising that over nine in ten Republicans (93%) give the President negative ratings, two-thirds of Independents (65%) and one-third of Democrats (32%) also do.

    These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,163 adults surveyed online between June 13 and 20, 2011.

    Re-election vote

    Looking at the President’s re-election is also cause for concern in the White House and campaign headquarters in Chicago. Early in May 46% of Americans said, if the election for President were to be held today, they would be likely to vote for President Obama and 47% said they would be unlikely. Later in May that number dropped a little and 43% said they would be likely to vote for the current president and 49% said they would be unlikely to do so. Currently, over half of Americans (52%) say they would be unlikely to vote for President Obama if the election were to be held today and 41% say they would be likely to vote for him.

    Looking at his base, while three-quarters of Democrats (74%) and seven in ten Liberals (70%) say they are likely to vote for him, 21% of both Democrats and Liberals say they are unlikely to do so. Among the key swing group of Independents, over half (56%) say they are unlikely to vote for the President if the election were held today and 37% say they would vote for him. Moderates are split evenly with 47% saying they would be likely to vote for President Obama if the election were held today and 47% say they would be unlikely to do so.

    Congress’s approval and the direction of the country

    For Congress, their job approval continues to be very bad. Just one in ten Americans (11%) give Congress positive ratings for the overall job they are doing while nine in ten (89%) give them negative marks. And this disapproval crosses all party lines. Whether it is 84% of Democrats, 90% of Independents or 94% of Republicans, it is clear that Congress needs to prove something to Americans before these numbers get better.

    This general sense of dissatisfaction with the way things are going is also seen in how Americans view the direction of the country overall. Over two-thirds (68%) of U.S. adults say things in the country have pretty seriously gotten off on the wrong track while one-third (32%) say they are going in the right direction. This is down from mid May when 38% of Americans believed things were going in the right direction and 62% thought they were off on the wrong track.

    So What?

    Granted it is over one year until the actual election and, at the moment, there is no clear front-runner for who the Republican challenger will be. There is so much that will happen in the next 16 months and these numbers will go up and down many times. But, as the distress of the economy lingers and as the unemployment rate stays high, one thing is clear to the re-election campaign leadership – they need to show that their candidate understands the priorities are here at home. Announcing the troop withdrawal from Afghanistan was one step in that direction.

     

    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

    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

    38

    7

    68

    35

    11

    43

    68

    Excellent

    9

    1

    17

    6

    3

    7

    21

    Pretty good

    29

    6

    51

    28

    8

    36

    47

    NEGATIVE

    62

    93

    32

    65

    89

    57

    32

    Only fair

    29

    27

    24

    33

    26

    33

    25

    Poor

    33

    66

    7

    33

    63

    24

    7

    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

    38

    38

    44

    32

    43

    29

    35

    50

    56

    Excellent

    9

    11

    11

    6

    7

    6

    8

    12

    13

    Pretty good

    29

    27

    33

    25

    36

    23

    27

    38

    43

    NEGATIVE

    62

    62

    56

    68

    57

    71

    65

    50

    44

    Only fair

    29

    32

    29

    28

    29

    33

    32

    22

    21

    Poor

    33

    30

    27

    40

    29

    38

    32

    29

    23

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

     

    TABLE 4

    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

     

    Total

    Political Party

    Political Ideology

    May 9

    May 19

    June

    Rep.

    Dem.

    Ind.

    Cons.

    Mod.

    Lib.

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Likely

    46

    43

    41

    7

    74

    37

    14

    47

    70

    Very likely

    33

    32

    30

    3

    60

    22

    9

    32

    57

    Somewhat likely

    14

    11

    11

    4

    14

    15

    5

    15

    13

    Unlikely

    47

    49

    52

    90

    21

    56

    82

    47

    21

    Somewhat unlikely

    7

    8

    7

    8

    6

    10

    5

    9

    6

    Very unlikely

    40

    41

    45

    82

    15

    46

    77

    37

    15

    Not at all sure

    6

    8

    6

    3

    5

    7

    4

    7

    9

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

     

    TABLE 5

    CONGRESS’ OVERALL JOB RATING

    How would you rate the overall job Congress is doing?

    Base: All adults

     

    Total

    Political Party

    Rep.

    Dem.

    Ind.

    %

    %

    %

    %

    POSITIVE

    11

    6

    16

    10

    Excellent

    1

    1

    2

    1

    Pretty good

    10

    6

    14

    9

    NEGATIVE

    89

    94

    84

    90

    Only fair

    44

    43

    48

    38

    Poor

    46

    51

    36

    53

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

     

    TABLE 6

    CONGRESS’ OVERALL JOB RATING – TREND

    How would you rate the overall job Congress is doing?

    Base: All adults

     

    TREND

    Positive

    Negative

    %

    %

    2011

    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 7

    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

    June

    32

    68

     

    May 19th

    38

    62

    May 9th

    39

    61

    April

    26

    74

    March

    28

    72

    February

    36

    64

    January

    37

    63

    2010

    December

    29

    71

     

    November

    33

    67

    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

     

    Methodology

    This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between June 13 to 20, 2011 among 2,163 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.

    J40315

    Q1205, 1210, 1215, 1218

    The Harris Poll ® #76, June 23, 2011

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