Negative Job Ratings for President Obama and Congress

NEW YORK , N.Y. – April 21, 2011 – The spring season is supposed to be a time of renewal and hope. For President Obama and Congress, the winter was rough and spring hasn’t been much better with a heated budget showdown and talk of a potential government shutdown. While it may be expected at this point, Americans do not like seeing their elected officials spar so bitterly and this is reflected in lower job ratings across the board. For President Obama, more than three in five U.S. adults (62%) give him negative ratings on the overall job he is doing while 38% give him positive marks. This is down from last month when 39% of Americans gave the President positive ratings and 61% negative. This month marks the President’s lowest ratings this year.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,402 adults surveyed online between April 11 and 18, 2011 by Harris Interactive.

It’s not surprising that nine in ten Republicans (91%) and Conservatives (90%) give the President negative marks. But he is also receiving negative ratings from over half of Moderates (55%) and over two-thirds of Independents (69%). Support among his base is also not as strong as the White House would probably like. Three in ten Democrats give President Obama negative marks (31%) as do one-quarter of Liberals (27%).

Congressional approval and direction of the country

While President Obama may be in negative territory, he is still doing better than Congress. Just 8% of Americans give Congress positive marks for the overall job they are doing while over nine in ten (92%) give them negative ratings. This is a new low point for Congress and down from 10% positive and 90% negative last month.

Also, even though Republicans may control the House and Democrats the Senate, there are no partisan differences in congressional job ratings. Over nine in ten Republicans (92%), Democrats (93%) and Independents (93%) give Congress negative marks. In fact, three in five Independents (60%) give Congress a rating of poor – the lowest in our scale.

The mood of the country is also turning more negative. Just one-quarter of Americans (26%) feel that things in the country are moving in the right direction while three-quarters (74%) believe they are heading down the wrong track. This is down from last month when 28% felt things were moving in the right direction and 72% believed they were going off on the wrong track and the lowest since 2009.

So What?

There is a saying that you shouldn’t air your dirty laundry in public. With the current budget showdown, that’s exactly what Congress and the White House seemed to do and the American public did not like it. They know it’s not easy and they know there are confrontations, but with the threat of a government shutdown only averted at the 11th hour, voters seemed to believe everyone was to blame for that messy display. There are still months to go before all these individuals face a re-election, so hopefully Americans forget the past few weeks by then.

 

 

 

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

Mar

April

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

POSITIVE

40

41

41

42

39

40

38

37

38

36

44

42

39

38

Excellent

9

9

9

10

6

9

9

8

8

7

10

11

8

7

Pretty good

31

32

31

32

33

31

29

29

30

28

34

32

31

31

NEGATIVE

60

59

59

58

61

60

62

63

62

64

56

58

61

62

Only fair

30

28

26

28

29

26

28

30

29

31

28

29

29

27

Poor

30

31

33

30

32

34

34

33

33

34

29

29

32

35

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

38

9

69

31

10

45

73

Excellent

7

2

14

4

2

5

19

Pretty good

31

7

55

27

8

39

55

NEGATIVE

62

91

31

69

90

55

27

Only fair

27

25

24

29

19

30

23

Poor

35

66

7

40

71

25

4

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

38

39

39

31

45

32

35

45

60

39

37

Excellent

7

6

5

5

12

5

5

12

14

9

5

Pretty good

31

33

34

26

34

27

31

33

46

31

32

NEGATIVE

62

61

61

69

55

68

65

55

40

61

63

Only fair

27

32

26

25

27

28

29

26

22

24

31

Poor

35

29

35

44

27

41

36

29

18

37

33

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

8

8

7

7

Excellent

1

1

2

2

Pretty good

6

6

6

6

NEGATIVE

92

92

93

93

Only fair

40

44

44

33

Poor

53

48

49

60

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

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.

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

April

26

74

 

March

28

72

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

 

Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between April 11 to 18, 2011 among 2,402 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.

J40012

Q1205, 1210, 1215

 

 

The Harris Poll ® #51, April 21, 2011

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

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