April Brings Cherry Blossoms and Negative Ratings on Issues for President Obama

    NEW YORK , N.Y. – April 28, 2014 – In Washington, D.C., April is a majestic time. The Cherry Blossoms have bloomed and the soft petals are raining beautifully down in the nation’s capital. But, if you are a politician, whether in Congress or at the White House, April brings more of the same – low approval numbers and a pretty unhappy electorate. President Obama seems mired in the low to mid 30s for positive ratings for the overall job he is doing. In March, just over one-third of Americans (35%) gave him positive ratings while 65% gave him negative ones. This month, one-third of U.S. adults (33%) give him positive marks while two-thirds (67%) give him negative ratings.

    These are some of the results of The Harris Poll® of 2,300 adults surveyed online between April 16 and 21, 2014.

    Perceptions of Congress also are holding steady, as more than nine in ten Americans (93%) give them negative ratings this month while 7% give them positive ratings. Last month, 8% of U.S. adults gave them positive ratings while 92% gave them negative marks. What is unchanged is the attitude towards how things in the country are going. For the third month in a row, one-third of Americans (34%) say things in the country are going in the right direction while two-thirds (66%) say things have gotten off on the wrong track.

    President Obama’s Handling of Specific Issues

    While the Obama Administration will not have to run for re-election again, they do need to provide support to other Democrats around the nation who do, either through fund-raising, campaigning or sometimes both. But, will Democrats rush to embrace the President if he comes into their district? It’s not only his overall job ratings that are low; he also has mostly negative ratings on ten specific issues as well. First, on his handling of the economy one-third of Americans (32%) give him positive ratings while two-thirds (68%) give him negative ratings. This is about the same as March, when he received positive ratings from 31% of U.S. adults and negative marks from 69%. The same number (32%) gives President Obama positive ratings for his handling of jobs, down from 37% in May, 2013.

    The best issue for the President is his handling of terrorism as just under half (48%) give him positive ratings while the same number give him negative marks. Looking at some other issues:

    • Healthcare was the president’s signature issue for his first term but three in five Americans (59%) give him negative marks while 38% give him positive ones;
    • Just 36% of Americans give President Obama positive ratings on the job he’s doing on education, down from 41% who said this in May of last year;
    • Earth Day has just passed and just over one-third of U.S. adults (35%) give the President positive ratings on his handling of the environment, down from 41% who said this in May, 2013;
    • When it comes to foreign policy, just one-third (32%) give the President positive ratings while three in ten (29%) give him positive marks for his handling of the unrest in the Middle East;
    • Just three in ten Americans (29%) give President Obama positive ratings for his handling of immigration, down from over one-third (35%) who gave him positive marks in May 2013; and
    • Only one quarter of U.S. Adults (24%) give the President positive ratings for his handling of gun control, down from one-third (33%) in May, 2013.

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    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

    %

    %

    2014

    April

    33

    67

     

    March

    35

    65

    February

    35

    65

    January

    32

    68

    2013

    December

    34

    66

     

    November

    32

    68

    October

    35

    65

    September

    34

    66

    July

    39

    61

    June

    41

    59

    March

    38

    62

    2012

    December

    45

    55

    September

    41

    59

    April

    41

    59

    March

    40

    60

    January

    36

    64

    2011

    December

    36

    64

     

    November

    34

    66

    October

    33

    67

    September

    32

    68

    July

    38

    62

    May

    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

    33

    6

    62

    26

    9

    37

    60

    Excellent

    7

    1

    15

    3

    3

    7

    13

    Pretty good

    26

    5

    47

    23

    6

    30

    47

    NEGATIVE

    67

    94

    38

    74

    91

    63

    40

    Only fair

    30

    23

    31

    35

    22

    34

    32

    Poor

    37

    71

    7

    39

    68

    29

    8

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

     

    TABLE 3

    CONGRESS’ OVERALL JOB RATING

    How would you rate the overall job Congress is doing?

    Base: All adults

     

    Total

    Political Party

    Political Ideology

    Rep.

    Dem.

    Ind.

    Cons.

    Mod.

    Lib.

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    POSITIVE

    7

    8

    10

    4

    6

    9

    7

    Excellent

    1

    2

    1

    1

    2

    1

     

    Pretty good

    6

    6

    8

    3

    3

    7

    7

    NEGATIVE

    93

    92

    90

    96

    94

    91

    93

    Only fair

    34

    37

    37

    29

    33

    37

    30

    Poor

    58

    55

    53

    67

    62

    54

    63

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


    TABLE 4

    CONGRESS’ OVERALL JOB RATING – TREND

    How would you rate the overall job Congress is doing?

    Base: All adults

     

    TREND

    Positive

    Negative

    %

    %

    2014

    April

    7

    93

     

    March

    8

    92

    February

    8

    92

    January

    6

    94

    2013

    December

    5

    95

     

    November

    7

    93

    October

    4

    96

    September

    7

    93

    July

    9

    91

    June

    9

    91

    March

    6

    94

    2012

    December

    8

    92

    April

    11

    89

    March

    9

    91

    January

    6

    94

    2011

    December

    5

    95

     

    September

    6

    94

    July

    8

    92

    June

    11

    89

    May

    13

    87

    March

    10

    90

    January

    16

    84

    2010

    December

    11

    89

     

    November

    13

    87

    June

    14

    86

    March

    10

    90

    Jan.

    16

    84

    2009

    Dec.

    17

    83

     

    Oct.

    16

    84

    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 5

    RIGHT DIRECTION OR WRONG TRACK – TREND

    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

    %

    %

    2014

    April

    34

    66

     

    March

    34

    66

    February

    34

    66

    January

    31

    69

    2013

    December

    33

    67

     

    November

    30

    70

    October

    20

    80

    September

    29

    71

    July

    34

    66

    May

    39

    61

    2012

    March

    34

    66

     

    January

    27

    73

    2011

    August

    16

    84

     

    May

    39

    61

    2010

    December

    29

    71

     

    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

     

    TABLE 6

    PRESIDENT OBAMA’S JOB RATING ON THE ECONOMY – TREND

    Now, turning to something different, how would you rate the overall job that President Barack Obama is doing on the economy?

    Base: All adults

    2009

    2010

    March

    April

    May

    June

    Aug

    Sept

    Nov

    Dec

    Jan

    Mar

    Apr

    May

    June

    Aug

    Sept

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    POSITIVE (NET)

    47

    49

    46

    43

    39

    40

    34

    36

    31

    32

    33

    36

    32

    32

    29

    Excellent

    13

    13

    10

    3

    9

    7

    6

    6

    5

    5

    6

    6

    5

    6

    5

    Pretty good

    34

    36

    36

    34

    31

    33

    27

    30

    25

    27

    27

    30

    27

    26

    24

    NEGATIVE (NET)

    53

    51

    54

    57

    61

    60

    66

    64

    69

    68

    67

    64

    68

    68

    71

    Only fair

    30

    27

    30

    27

    25

    27

    30

    30

    31

    30

    31

    29

    32

    29

    31

    Poor

    23

    24

    24

    30

    36

    33

    37

    34

    39

    37

    36

    34

    37

    39

    40

    2010

    2011

    2012

    Oct

    Nov

    Dec

    Jan

    Feb

    Mar

    May

    June

    July

    Sept

    Oct

    Nov

    Dec

    Jan

    Feb

    Mar

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    POSITIVE (NET)

    27

    31

    30

    33

    33

    33

    32

    27

    26

    21

    23

    22

    25

    25

    32

    32

    Excellent

    5

    5

    5

    7

    9

    5

    7

    5

    3

    2

    3

    3

    4

    2

    3

    5

    Pretty good

    22

    26

    25

    26

    24

    28

    26

    22

    23

    18

    20

    20

    22

    22

    29

    27

    NEGATIVE (NET)

    73

    69

    70

    67

    62

    67

    68

    73

    74

    79

    77

    78

    75

    75

    68

    68

    Only fair

    33

    30

    34

    30

    22

    29

    28

    30

    33

    33

    36

    32

    34

    34

    30

    29

    Poor

    39

    39

    36

    37

    39

    38

    40

    43

    41

    46

    41

    46

    41

    41

    38

    39

    2013

    2014

    Feb

    Mar

    April

    June

    July

    Sept

    Oct

    Nov

    Dec

    Jan

    Feb

    Mar

    Apr.

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    POSITIVE (NET)

    36

    33

    39

    35

    33

    29

    30

    30

    29

    28

    31

    31

    32

    Excellent

    4

    6

    6

    5

    5

    4

    5

    6

    4

    5

    4

    5

    5

    Pretty good

    32

    27

    32

    31

    28

    28

    25

    24

    25

    23

    27

    26

    27

    NEGATIVE (NET)

    64

    67

    61

    65

    67

    71

    70

    70

    71

    72

    69

    69

    68

    Only fair

    26

    26

    26

    29

    29

    31

    28

    29

    30

    30

    29

    27

    29

    Poor

    38

    41

    35

    36

    38

    40

    42

    41

    41

    42

    40

    42

    39

    Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding; In February 2012 Not at all sure was offered as a response choice and 4% responded in that way.

     

    TABLE 7

    RATINGS OF JOB OBAMA IS DOING ON SPECIFIC ISSUES

    How would you rate the overall job President Barack Obama is doing on each of the following?

    Base: U.S. Adults

     

    POSITIVE (NET)

    Excellent

    Pretty good

    NEGATIVE (NET)

    Only fair

    Poor

    Not at all sure

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Terrorism

    48

    14

    33

    48

    20

    28

    5

    Healthcare

    38

    19

    19

    59

    15

    44

    3

    Education

    36

    9

    27

    57

    29

    28

    6

    The environment

    35

    7

    28

    56

    31

    25

    9

    Foreign Policy

    32

    7

    25

    60

    23

    37

    8

    Jobs

    32

    8

    24

    64

    26

    37

    4

    Immigration

    29

    5

    23

    64

    24

    41

    7

    The unrest in the Middle East

    29

    4

    24

    64

    28

    37

    7

    Gun control

    24

    6

    18

    65

    26

    38

    11

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

     

    TABLE 8

    RATINGS OF JOB OBAMA IS DOING ON SPECIFIC ISSUES

    Tracking & by Political Affiliation

    Percent Saying Excellent/Pretty Good

    How would you rate the overall job President Barack Obama is doing on each of the following?

    Base: U.S. Adults

    Feb 2011 Total

    Jan 2013 Total

    May 2013 Total

    April 2014 Total

    Political Affiliation

    Republican

    Democrat

    Independent

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Terrorism

    NA

    NA

    47

    48

    20

    74

    46

    Healthcare

    37

    43

    39

    38

    8

    68

    33

    Education

    39

    47

    41

    36

    17

    63

    30

    The environment

    41

    44

    41

    35

    17

    55

    32

    Foreign Policy

    NA

    NA

    NA

    32

    9

    58

    28

    Jobs

    29

    39

    37

    32

    10

    59

    26

    Immigration

    NA

    34

    35

    29

    11

    52

    24

    The unrest in the Middle East

    39

    40

    35

    29

    8

    50

    24

    Gun control

    NA

    27

    33

    24

    10

    41

    22

     

    Methodology

    This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between April 16 and 21, 2014 among 2,300 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, The Harris Poll 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 Poll 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 our 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 The Harris Poll.

    The Harris Poll® #41, April 28, 2014

    By Regina A. Corso, VP, The Harris Poll and Public Relations Research

    About Nielsen & The Harris Poll

    On February 3, 2014, Nielsen acquired Harris Interactive and The Harris Poll. Nielsen Holdings N.V. (NYSE: NLSN) is a global information and measurement company with leading market positions in marketing and consumer information, television and other media measurement, online intelligence and mobile measurement. Nielsen has a presence in approximately 100 countries, with headquarters in New York, USA and Diemen, the Netherlands. For more information, visit www.nielsen.com.