Positive Outlook on Obama’s Second Term as Inauguration Day Approaches

NEW YORK – January 17, 2013 – As President Barack Obama prepares for his second inauguration, findings from a recent Harris Poll show that a slight majority of Americans are feeling,hopeful about the President’s second term. Just over half (52%) of U.S. adults describe themselves as very or somewhat happy about Obama beginning his second term, considerably more than indicate being very or somewhat upset (39%). Similarly, nearly half of Americans (47%) believe things will be better for the country at the end of the President’s second term, putting this sentiment well ahead of feelings that things will be much or somewhat worse (35%) or exactly the same (18%). Responses largely fell along party lines, as anticipated; political independents were evenly split on these questions, but were more divided on specific issues including jobs, gun control and education.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,166 U.S. adults surveyed online between January 7 and 9, 2013 by Harris Interactive.

Four More Years

While Independents fall evenly across both camps, amongst Republicans and Democrats feelings about the President beginning his second term are squarely split by party policy:

  • 86% of Democrats agree they are very or somewhat happy.
  • 83% of Republicans report feeling very or somewhat upset.
  • Political independents are evenly split, with 43% conveying happiness and 44% in the camp of very or somewhat upset.
  • Independents are also divided as to whether things will be better (41%) or worse (39%) for the U.S. at the end of Obama’s second term, with one in five (20%) expecting things will remain exactly the same.

Ratings have largely improved for the President over the past two years in terms of how well Americans feel he is tackling hot button topics. Issues where Obama’s combined Excellent + Pretty good overall job ratings show the most dramatic improvements include:

  • Jobs (29% in February 2011 to 39% in January 2013)
  • Education (39% to 47%)
  • Healthcare (37% to 43%) and
  • The economy (33% to 39%).


The Road Ahead

When asked which two domestic issues from a provided list they would like to see the Obama administration focus on first, the economy tops the list at 61%, followed by jobs (45%) and more distantly by healthcare (28%).

Independents, typically expected to fall between Republicans and Democrats, in many cases show stronger affiliation with one party or another, depending on the issue.

Independents’ priorities resemble those of Republicans for:

  • Jobs (49% Republican, 39% Democrat, 48% Independent)
  • Immigration (18%-9%-16%) and
  • Gun control (10%-26%-8%).

Priority levels are more closely aligned with Democrats on:

  • Education (8% Republican, 19% Democrat, 19% Independent) and
  • The environment (3%-9%-11%).

When asked, unprompted, to name the one issue or concern they felt was the most important for Obama and his administration to address, after the economy, healthcare was the top response at nearly 1 in 5 adults (17%):

  • Healthcare (17%)
  • Jobs/Unemployment (10%)
  • National debt/deficit/government spending (8%)
  • Gun control (7%).

Women are more likely to prioritize healthcare above all other issues, at 21% as compared with 13% for men. Finally, results show marked changes since January 2009 in several key issues:

  • Healthcare is down slightly (21% to 17%)
  • Jobs/unemployment mentions have doubled (5% to 10%)
  • National debt/deficit/government spending has gone from an also-ran (1%) to the third most frequent mention (8%) and
  • Gun control related comments have gone from negligible mentions in 2009 to Americans’ fourth highest current priority (<1% to 7%).



This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between January 7 and 9, 2013 among 2,166 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.

About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is one of the world’s leading market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers proprietary solutions in the areas of market and customer insight, corporate brand and reputation strategy, and marketing, advertising, public relations and communications research. Harris possesses expertise in a wide range of industries including health care, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Additionally, Harris has a portfolio of multi-client offerings that complement our custom solutions while maximizing our client’s research investment. Serving clients in more than 196 countries and territories through our North American and European offices, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us – and our clients – stay ahead of what’s next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.