Two-Thirds of Americans in the Swing States Give President Obama Negative Ratings

    NEW YORK , N.Y. – December 15, 2011 – One thing the infighting among Republicans may be doing is strengthening President Obama’s job approval ratings. While still low, this is the fourth month in a row that the positive numbers have inched upwards. This month just over one-third of Americans (36%) give the President positive ratings for the overall job he is doing and slightly less than two-thirds (64%) give him negative marks. This is up from last month’s numbers of 34% positive and 66% negative. Looking at the possible swing states for the general election (Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia), two-thirds of Americans in these nine states (66%) give the President negative ratings while one-third (34%) give him positive marks.

    These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,237 adults surveyed online between December 5 and 12, 2011 by Harris Interactive.

    Not surprisingly, just 7% of Republicans and 12% of Conservatives give President Obama positive ratings. Among Independents, two-thirds (66%) give him negative ratings as do 60% of Moderates. Among the President’s party, while two-thirds of Democrats (65%) give President Obama positive ratings, one-third (35%) give him negative ratings. Liberals feel the same way with 64% giving the President positive marks and 36% giving him negative ratings.

    Congress and Direction of the Country

    Congress, however, is not feeling any warm feelings as just 5% of Americans give them positive ratings for the job they are doing while 95% give them negative marks. This is unchanged for the past two months and consistent among parties; almost all Republicans (96%), Democrats (94%) and Independents (97%) give Congress negative ratings.

    Maybe it’s the holiday spirit, but there is also an uptick in how people think things are going in the country. This month, one-quarter of U.S. adults (24%) say things are going in the right direction while three-quarters (76%) say things are going off on the wrong track. Last month, one in five Americans (20%) said things in the country were going in the right direction while four in five (80%) said things were going off on the wrong track.

    President Obama’s re-election chances

    One thing the holiday season means this year is that the presidential election is less than 11 months away. And if the election for president were to be held today, over half of Americans (51%) would be unlikely to vote to re-elect President Obama, two in five (42%) would be likely to vote for him and 7% are not at all sure. This is slightly better than last month when 53% said they would be unlikely to vote to re-elect the President and 40% said they would be likely to do so. Looking at this by party, nine in ten Republicans (89%) and over half of Independents (54%) would be unlikely to vote for him as would 19% of Democrats. Also, in the likely 2012 swing states, 52% say they would be unlikely to vote for the President while 40% say they would be likely to vote for him.

    When it comes to what Americans think will happen next November, just over one-third (35%) think President Obama will be re-elected while 44% think he will not be re-elected; one in five (20%) are not at all sure. Last month, 46% did not think he would be re-elected while one-third (32%) thought he would be re-elected.

    So What?

    At this point, with Iowa and New Hampshire just a few weeks away, much of the focus will be on the Republicans as they fight for the nomination. This gives President Obama a chance to quietly shore up support and wait to see who his challenger will be. If the Republican nomination fight drags on for months, this could help the President come the fall. Congress, on the other hand, continues to have almost no job approval and as yet another threat of a government shutdown looms, are likely to take the blame for much that is perceived wrong by voters. Whether that carries over into November remains to be seen.


    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

    %

    %

    2011

    December

    36

    64

    November

    34

    66

    October

    33

    67

    September

    32

    68

    August

    32

    68

    July

    38

    62

    June

    38

    62

    May 19th

    45

    55

    May 9th

    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

    2012 Swing

    States

    Rep.

    Dem.

    Ind.

    Cons.

    Mod.

    Lib.

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    POSITIVE

    36

    7

    65

    34

    12

    40

    64

    34

    Excellent

    7

    1

    15

    4

    2

    6

    16

    9

    Pretty good

    30

    6

    50

    30

    10

    34

    47

    26

    NEGATIVE

    64

    93

    35

    66

    88

    60

    36

    66

    Only fair

    29

    23

    26

    33

    21

    32

    29

    28

    Poor

    35

    70

    9

    33

    67

    27

    8

    38

    Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding; 2012 Swing States are Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia

    TABLE 3

    CONGRESS’ OVERALL JOB RATING

    How would you rate the overall job Congress is doing?

    Base: All adults

    Total

    Political Party

    Rep.

    Dem.

    Ind.

    %

    %

    %

    %

    POSITIVE

    5

    4

    6

    3

    Excellent

    1

    Pretty good

    5

    4

    6

    3

    NEGATIVE

    95

    96

    94

    97

    Only fair

    29

    37

    24

    26

    Poor

    66

    59

    70

    71

    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

    %

    %

    2011

    December

    5

    95

    November

    5

    95

    October

    5

    95

    September

    6

    94

    August

    5

    95

    July

    8

    92

    June

    11

    89

    May 19th

    12

    88

    May 9th

    13

    87

    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.


    TABLE 5

    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

    December

    24

    76

    November

    20

    80

    October

    20

    80

    September

    22

    78

    August

    16

    84

    July

    25

    75

    May

    39

    61

    January

    37

    63

    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

    VOTING FOR PRESIDENT OBAMA

    If the election for president were to be held today, how likely would you be to vote for the current president, Barack Obama?

    Base: All adults

    May 9

    May 19

    June

    July

    August

    Sept.

    Oct.

    Nov.

    Dec.

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Likely

    46

    43

    41

    42

    37

    39

    40

    40

    42

    Very likely

    33

    32

    30

    30

    27

    26

    26

    30

    29

    Somewhat likely

    14

    11

    11

    12

    10

    13

    13

    10

    13

    Unlikely

    47

    49

    52

    52

    55

    53

    54

    53

    51

    Somewhat unlikely

    7

    8

    7

    8

    7

    7

    8

    6

    8

    Very unlikely

    40

    41

    45

    44

    48

    47

    46

    47

    43

    Not at all sure

    6

    8

    6

    6

    7

    8

    6

    7

    7

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

    TABLE 7

    VOTING FOR PRESIDENT OBAMA – BY POLITICAL PARTY

    If the election for president were to be held today, how likely would you be to vote for the current president, Barack Obama?

    Base: All adults

    Total

    Political Party

    Political Ideology

    2012 Swing States

    Rep.

    Dem.

    Ind.

    Cons.

    Mod.

    Lib.

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Likely

    42

    8

    74

    38

    13

    46

    73

    40

    Very likely

    29

    2

    58

    25

    7

    29

    60

    28

    Somewhat likely

    13

    6

    16

    13

    6

    17

    14

    12

    Unlikely

    51

    89

    19

    54

    83

    46

    16

    52

    Somewhat unlikely

    8

    5

    6

    12

    6

    9

    7

    7

    Very unlikely

    43

    84

    13

    42

    77

    37

    9

    45

    Not at all sure

    7

    3

    7

    8

    4

    8

    11

    8

    Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding; 2012 Swing States are Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia

    TABLE 8

    LIKELIHOOD OF OBAMA’S RE-ELECTION

    If you had to say now, do you think that President Obama will be re-elected, or not?

    Base: All adults

    July

    Sept.

    Oct.

    Nov.

    Dec.

    Political Party

    Rep.

    Dem.

    Ind.

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    I think he will be re-elected.

    35

    30

    30

    32

    35

    10

    61

    34

    I do not think he will be re-elected.

    42

    47

    49

    46

    44

    75

    20

    44

    Not at all sure.

    23

    23

    21

    23

    20

    15

    19

    23

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

    Methodology

    This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between December 5 and 12, 2011 among 2,237 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.

    J40989

    Q1205, 1210, 1215, 1218, 1255

    The Harris Poll ® #130, December 15, 2011

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

    About Harris Interactive

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