More Than Half of All Adults Are Not Familiar Enough With Robert Gates, Tim Geithner, John Boehner, Ben Bernanke and John Roberts to have Opinions About Them

 

NEW YORK , N.Y. – November 1, 2010 – Several recent polls have shown how few people are well-informed on important subjects. In fact recent Harris Polls have shown how few people know what is in the health care reform bill, commonly called Obamacare by its critics. Now, a new Harris Poll shows how many people do not know enough about major leaders in Washington to have opinions about them. Majorities of Americans do not know enough to have opinions about Defense Secretary Robert Gates (53%), Chief Justice John Roberts (60%), Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke (52%), Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner (59%), or House Minority Leader John Boehner (63%), who may well be the Speaker of the House after the November 2nd elections.

This Harris poll also finds that, of all the major leaders in Washington, only one, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, receives substantial positive ratings (48% positive and 32% negative) among the American public.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 3,084 adults surveyed online between October 11 and 18, 2010 byHarris Interactive.

Other interesting findings in this new Harris Poll include:

  • The Democrats in Congress (16% positive; 51% negative) and the Republicans (14% positive; 51% negative) are almost equally, and very, unpopular;
  • Vice President Joe Biden has many more critics than admirers (46% negative; 26% positive);
  • Defense Secretary Robert Gates has more friends than critics (27% positive; 20% negative);
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has the worst ratings of any leader in the poll (52% negative; 19% positive);
  • Chief Justice John Roberts’ positive and negative ratings are equal (20%);
  • Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has more critics than friends (28% negative; 20% positive);
  • Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has many more critics than admirers (29% negative; 12% positive);
  • House Minority Leader John Boehner, the least known of all the leaders in the poll, also has many more critics than friends (25% negative; 12% positive).

So What?

There are two conclusions that can be drawn from this poll. That so many people are not familiar with so many of the most powerful leaders in Washington is striking and suggests that many people can hold strong views about Washington without actually following what is going on there. The negative ratings for so many of the leaders, and both parties in Congress, underlines the sour mood of the country and that many votes are likely to be cast against government and Democratic incumbents rather than in favor of the Republicans this November.

 

TABLE 1

FAMILIARITY OF SENIOR CABINET MEMBERS, CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS AND PARTIES IN CONGRESS

Are you familiar enough with each of the following to have an opinion regarding them?

Base: All adults

FAMILIAR

Mar.

April

May

June

Aug.

Sept.

Dec.

Jan.

Mar.

June

Oct.

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

85

83

83

81

82

82

82

82

81

81

81

Vice President Joe Biden

70

67

69

68

71

70

72

67

72

71

72

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi

68

65

66

66

67

69

71

68

69

69

72

Democrats in Congress

66

64

64

65

68

69

67

71

68

68

67

Republicans in Congress

62

61

59

58

63

65

64

66

67

64

64

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke

42

43

43

41

44

48

N/a

N/a

49

45

48

Defense Secretary Robert Gates

40

44

43

42

45

46

49

47

48

44

47

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner

35

44

41

39

43

42

43

43

43

39

41

Chief Justice John Roberts

40

N/a

N/a

37

N/a

N/a

N/a

N/a

N/a

36

40

House Minority Leader John Boehner

37

N/a

37

N/a

27

N/a

N/a

N/a

N/a

N/a

37

Note: N/a indicates not asked

 

 

TABLE 2

RATINGS OF SENIOR CABINET MEMBERS, CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS AND PARTIES IN CONGRESS

How would you rate the overall job each of the following is doing?

Base: All adults

Positive

Excellent

Pretty

Good

Negative

Only

Fair

Poor

Not

Familiar

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

48

14

34

32

22

11

19

Vice President Joe Biden

26

5

21

46

24

21

28

Defense Secretary Robert Gates

27

6

21

20

14

5

53

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi

19

4

15

52

17

35

28

Chief Justice John Roberts

20

6

15

20

12

8

60

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke

20

3

17

28

19

9

52

Democrats in Congress

16

2

13

51

21

31

33

Republicans in Congress

14

2

12

51

23

28

36

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner

12

2

10

29

14

15

59

House Minority Leader John Boehner

12

3

9

25

11

15

63

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


 

TABLE 3

RATING OF VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN – TREND

How would you rate the job Vice-President Joe Biden is doing?

Base: All adults

Positive

Negative

Not Familiar

Oct. ’10

%

26

46

28

June

%

26

45

29

March

%

29

44

28

Jan.

%

28

39

33

Dec.

%

30

42

28

Sept.

%

30

41

30

Aug.

%

33

38

29

June

%

30

38

32

May

%

32

36

31

April

%

34

32

33

March

%

35

35

30

Excellent or pretty good. Only fair or poor. Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% because of rounding.

 

TABLE 4

RATING OF SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY CLINTON – TREND

How would you rate the job Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is doing?

Base: All adults

Positive

Negative

Not Familiar

Oct. ’10

%

48

32

19

June

%

45

35

19

March

%

48

33

19

Jan.

%

49

33

18

Dec.

%

48

34

18

Sept.

%

48

34

18

Aug.

%

51

31

18

June

%

47

34

19

May

%

50

33

17

April

%

51

32

17

March

%

49

36

15

Excellent or pretty good. Only fair or poor. Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% because of rounding.


 

TABLE 5

RATING OF DEFENSE SECRETARY ROBERT GATES – TREND

How would you rate the job Defense Secretary Robert Gates is doing?

Base: All adults

Positive

Negative

Not Familiar

Oct. ’10

%

27

20

53

June

%

23

20

56

March

%

27

21

52

Jan.

%

26

21

53

Dec.

%

28

21

51

Sept.

%

28

18

54

Aug.

%

28

17

55

June

%

28

13

58

May

%

28

15

57

April

%

30

14

56

March

%

27

13

60

Excellent or pretty good. Only fair or poor. Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% because of rounding.

 

TABLE 6

RATING OF TREASURY SECRETARY TIM GEITHNER – TREND

How would you rate the job Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is doing?

Base: All adults

Positive

Negative

Not Familiar

Oct. ’10

%

12

29

59

June

%

10

29

61

March

%

13

30

57

Jan.

%

14

29

57

Dec.

%

15

29

57

Sept.

%

16

26

58

Aug.

%

17

26

57

June

%

15

24

61

May

%

16

26

59

April

%

18

26

56

March

%

11

24

65

Excellent or pretty good. Only fair or poor. Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% because of rounding.


 

TABLE 7

RATING OF HOUSE SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI – TREND

How would you rate the job House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is doing?

Base: All adults

Positive

Negative

Not Familiar

Oct. ’10

%

19

52

28

June

%

20

49

31

March

%

16

52

31

Jan.

%

18

50

32

Dec.

%

22

49

29

Sept.

%

20

49

31

Aug.

%

19

48

33

June

%

18

49

34

May

%

21

45

34

April

%

21

44

35

March

%

23

45

32

Excellent or pretty good. Only fair or poor. Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% because of rounding.

 

TABLE 8

RATING OF DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS – TREND

How would you rate the job the Democrats in Congress are doing?

Base: All adults

Positive

Negative

Not Familiar

Oct. ’10

%

16

51

33

June

%

14

54

32

March

%

14

54

32

Jan.

%

17

54

29

Dec.

%

18

50

33

Sept.

%

18

51

31

Aug.

%

21

47

32

June

%

21

43

35

May

%

25

39

36

April

%

22

42

36

March

%

25

41

34

Excellent or pretty good. Only fair or poor. Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% because of rounding.


 

TABLE 9

RATING OF REPUBLICANS IN CONGRESS – TREND

How would you rate the job the Republicans in Congress are doing?

Base: All adults

Positive

Negative

Not Familiar

Oct. ’10

%

14

51

36

June

%

11

52

36

March

%

16

51

33

Jan.

%

16

50

34

Dec.

%

14

50

36

Sept.

%

11

54

35

Aug.

%

12

52

37

June

%

12

46

42

May

%

14

45

41

April

%

14

48

39

March

%

15

47

38

Excellent or pretty good. Only fair or poor. Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% because of rounding.

 

 

 

TABLE 10

RATING OF FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN BEN BERNANKE – TREND

How would you rate the job Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is doing?

Base: All adults

Positive

Negative

Not Familiar

Oct. ’10

%

20

28

52

June

%

17

29

55

March

%

21

28

51

Sept.

%

25

23

52

Aug.

%

20

24

56

June

%

18

23

59

May

%

19

24

57

April

%

20

23

57

March

%

14

28

58

Excellent or pretty good. Only fair or poor. Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% because of rounding

 

TABLE 11

RATING OF SUPREME COURT CHIEF JUSTICE JOHN ROBERTS – TREND

How would you rate the job Chief Justice John Roberts is doing?

Base: All adults

Positive

Negative

Not Familiar

Oct. ’10

%

20

20

60

June

%

18

19

64

June

%

21

15

63

March

%

25

16

60

Excellent or pretty good. Only fair or poor. Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% because of rounding.


 

TABLE 12

RATING OF HOUSE MINORITY LEADER JOHN BOEHNER – TREND

How would you rate the job Chief Justice John Roberts is doing?

Base: All adults

Positive

Negative

Not Familiar

Oct. ’10

%

12

25

63

Aug. ’09

%

8

19

73

March ’09

%

9

16

75

Excellent or pretty good. Only fair or poor. Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% because of rounding.

 

Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between October 11 to 18, 2010 among 3,084 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.

J38848

Q1220, 1225

 

The Harris Poll ® #132, November 1, 2010

By Humphrey Taylor, Chairman, The Harris Poll

 

About Harris Interactive

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