Almost Six in Ten Americans Give President Obama Negative Job Rating

    NEW YORK, N.Y. – February 28, 2011 – Looking ahead, President Obama most likely sees many battles forthcoming. There’s the current budget showdown which has the potential to lead to a government shutdown. There is the labor issue and all eyes are watching to see how the White House responds to what is happening in Wisconsin. And, then there is his own electoral battle, albeit 20 months from now, but still on the horizon.

    Going into these battles, almost three in five Americans (58%) have a negative opinion of the job the President is doing while 42% have a positive opinion of it. This is slightly down from last month when 44% of U.S. adults gave the job the President was doing positive marks and 56% gave it negative ratings.

    These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 3,171 adults surveyed online between February 14 and 21, 2011 by Harris Interactive.

    Partisanship definitely exists in looking at President Obama’s job approval ratings. Nine in ten Republicans (90%) give the President poor ratings while almost three-quarters (73%) of Democrats give him positive marks and Independents are more negative than positive with 60% giving the President negative marks and 40% positive. What is interesting is the depth of support among Republicans and Democrats. Almost six in ten Republicans (57%) give President Obama a rating of poor, the worst on the scale. Among Democrats, just one in five (22%) give the President a rating of excellent, while half (50%) say he is doing a pretty good job.

    There is also a large regional divide. Just three in ten Southerners (31%) give President Obama positive ratings as do 42% of Midwesterners. Westerners are very split as 49% give the President positive ratings while 51% give him negative marks. The President’s strongest ratings come from the East where over half (54%) give him positive ratings on the job he is doing.

    It is almost two months into the new Congress and yet they are not faring much better than the previous Congress did in terms of their ratings. Over four in five Americans (86%) rate the overall job Congress is doing negatively while just 14% give Congress positive ratings. Last month, 84% of U.S. adults gave them negative marks while 16% positive ratings.

    It’s not just Congress and the President who are mired in negative ratings, the direction of the country is as well. Almost two-thirds of Americans (64%) say things in the country are going off on the wrong track, almost the same as last month (63%). Over one-third of U.S. adults (36%) say things are going in the right direction; 37% said this last month.

    So What?

    Americans may be hearing that things are getting better and they can see the stock market has had a nice run, but this hasn’t translated into better job ratings for President Obama or for Congress. And, if turmoil in the Middle East continues and impacts gas prices for the summer driving season, expect these numbers to move down, not up. That’s something the White House definitely does not want to see one year before the presidential election.

     

    TABLE 1

    PRESIDENT OBAMA’S JOB RATING – TREND

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

    Base: All adults

     

    2009

    Mar

    April

    May

    June

    Aug

    Sept

    Oct

    Nov

    Dec

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    POSITIVE

    55

    58

    59

    54

    51

    49

    45

    43

    41

    Excellent

    17

    18

    17

    14

    11

    11

    10

    9

    7

    Pretty good

    38

    40

    42

    39

    39

    38

    35

    33

    33

    NEGATIVE

    45

    42

    41

    46

    49

    51

    55

    57

    59

    Only fair

    27

    26

    25

    25

    25

    25

    27

    29

    30

    Poor

    18

    15

    16

    21

    24

    26

    28

    29

    30

     

    2010

    2011

    Jan

    Mar

    April

    May

    June

    Aug

    Sept

    Oct

    Nov

    Dec

    Jan

    Feb

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    POSITIVE

    40

    41

    41

    42

    39

    40

    38

    37

    38

    36

    44

    42

    Excellent

    9

    9

    9

    10

    6

    9

    9

    8

    8

    7

    10

    11

    Pretty good

    31

    32

    31

    32

    33

    31

    29

    29

    30

    28

    34

    32

    NEGATIVE

    60

    59

    59

    58

    61

    60

    62

    63

    62

    64

    56

    58

    Only fair

    30

    28

    26

    28

    29

    26

    28

    30

    29

    31

    28

    29

    Poor

    30

    31

    33

    30

    32

    34

    34

    33

    33

    34

    29

    29

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

     

    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 Philosophy

    Rep.

    Dem.

    Ind.

    Cons.

    Mod.

    Lib.

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    POSITIVE

    42

    10

    73

    40

    13

    45

    75

    Excellent

    11

    3

    22

    6

    3

    8

    29

    Pretty good

    32

    6

    50

    34

    10

    37

    46

    NEGATIVE

    58

    90

    27

    60

    87

    55

    25

    Only fair

    29

    33

    21

    31

    26

    35

    17

    Poor

    29

    57

    6

    30

    61

    20

    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

    Gender

    East

    Midwest

    South

    West

    H.S. or less

    Some college

    College grad

    Post grad

    Men

    Women

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    POSITIVE

    42

    54

    42

    31

    49

    36

    43

    48

    62

    42

    43

    Excellent

    11

    19

    9

    6

    12

    12

    8

    10

    17

    14

    8

    Pretty good

    32

    35

    33

    25

    37

    24

    35

    37

    45

    28

    35

    NEGATIVE

    58

    46

    58

    69

    51

    64

    57

    52

    38

    58

    57

    Only fair

    29

    28

    31

    30

    25

    30

    28

    30

    19

    25

    31

    Poor

    29

    18

    27

    39

    27

    34

    29

    22

    19

    32

    26

    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

    14

    10

    22

    9

    Excellent

    4

    3

    8

    1

    Pretty good

    10

    6

    14

    8

    NEGATIVE

    86

    90

    78

    91

    Only fair

    47

    47

    48

    46

    Poor

    39

    43

    30

    45

    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 the Congress is doing?

    Base: All adults

     

    TREND

    Positive

    Negative

    %

    %

    2011

    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.

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

     

    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

    February

    36

    64

     

    January

    37

    63

    2010

    December

    29

    71

     

    November

    33

    67

    October

    34

    66

    September

    36

    64

    April

    39

    61

    March

    33

    67

    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

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

     

    Methodology

    This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between February 14 to 21, 2011 among 3,171 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.

    J39370

    Q1205, 1210, 1215

    The Harris Poll® #26, February 28, 2011

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