Mixed Feelings About How President Obama is Doing

    NEW YORK, N.Y. – February 8, 2012 – As President Obama starts his fourth year in office, people have many opinions of the job he has done so far and these opinions have changed over the past three years. In looking at fourteen different statements there are three that have changed fairly substantially over time. In 2010, almost three in five Americans (57%) said President Obama made other countries feel better about the United States. That number dropped to 50% last year and is now even lower, at 43% this year.

    Over half of U.S. adults (55%) agree that President Obama is not changing things fast enough and in 2010, 43% felt that way. Another large shift is in the speed of change. In 2010, less than two in five (38%) agreed the President was changing things too fast; this year one-quarter of Americans (26%) feel this way.

    These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,016 adults surveyed online between January 16 and 23, 2012 by Harris Interactive.

    Looking at some of the more positive statements, each shows a decline in the number of Americans who agree. While majorities believe that the President is trying to put the country back on track (57%), trying to bring about much needed change (54%) and is open, honest and trustworthy (50%), two years ago, in 2010 between 54% and 61% agreed with each statement and in 2011 between 53% and 59% agreed.

    Looking at some of the more negative statements, more than three in five Americans say President Obama has not lived up to his campaign promises (63% up from 56% who said this last year) and that he spends too much time talking and there isn’t enough action (61% up from 56%). In 2010, three in five U.S. adults (61%) believed the President hadn’t done much for them yet and that dropped to 56% last year but is back up to 58% this year.

    Other findings of this poll include:

    • A few things haven’t changed too much since last year. About half of Americans agree President Obama does a good job of explaining issues to people (49%) and that he is working for the people’s best interests and doing the right thing (49%);
    • Less than half of Americans (47%) believe the President provides a fresh outlook with new ideas, down from 52% last year and 56% in 2010;
    • Three in five Americans (59%) say the President is spending too much and creating too much debt, which is down from 61% who said this in 2010 and up from 56% who agreed in 2011; and
    • Up from 41% last year, this year 45% of U.S. adults say President Obama doesn’t care about people like them.

    Partisan Differences

    As it has been in the past two years, it is not surprising that Democrats agree with more of the positive statements about the President, and Republicans agree with more of the negative ones. There are, however, a few interesting similarities that came out in the data. For example:

    • Majorities of Republicans (52%), Democrats (55%) and Independents (59%) say President Obama is not changing things fast enough;
    • But, at the same time, two in five Republicans (40%), one-quarter of Independents (24%) and 14% of Democrats say the President is changing things too fast; and
    • While four in five Republicans (82%) and almost two-thirds of Independents (64%) say President Obama has not lived up to his campaign promises, so do almost half of Democrats (48%).

    So What?

    President Obama has had a complicated year. The economic indicators are improving, but Americans are only slowly coming around to that. He’s had some big national security wins, but with the focus on the economy and jobs, the President is not getting a lot of credit. And, there is also the focus on the Republican candidates vying to challenge the President in the fall. All of this is something President Obama has to contend with and could help explain why Americans are a little conflicted about their feelings towards him at the moment. He has some time before he has to convince the American public to re-elect him, but in order to do that he will need to work diligently to alter some of these views.

    TABLE 1

    POSITIVE STATEMENTS ABOUT PRESIDENT OBAMA

    Do you agree or disagree with the following statements about President Obama?

    Base: All adults

    AGREE

    (NET)

    Strongly

    agree

    Somewhat

    agree

    DISAGREE

    (NET)

    Somewhat

    disagree

    Strongly

    disagree

    Not

    Sure

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    He is trying to put the country back on track.

    57

    32

    25

    38

    11

    27

    5

    He is trying to bring about much needed change.

    54

    28

    26

    39

    13

    27

    7

    He is open, honest and trustworthy.

    50

    26

    24

    42

    14

    29

    8

    He does a good job of explaining issues to people like me.

    49

    22

    27

    45

    17

    27

    7

    He is working for the people’s best interests and doing the right thing.

    49

    24

    25

    45

    13

    32

    6

    He provides a fresh outlook with new ideas.

    47

    18

    29

    46

    17

    30

    7

    He has made other countries feel better about the United States.

    43

    18

    25

    45

    16

    29

    12

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


    TABLE 2

    NEGATIVE STATEMENTS ABOUT PRESIDENT OBAMA

    Do you agree or disagree with the following statements about President Obama?

    Base: All adults

    AGREE

    (NET)

    Strongly

    agree

    Somewhat

    agree

    DISAGREE

    (NET)

    Somewhat

    disagree

    Strongly

    disagree

    Not

    Sure

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    He has not lived up to his campaign promises.

    63

    36

    27

    30

    16

    14

    7

    He spends too much time talking and there isn’t enough action.

    61

    37

    23

    33

    18

    14

    7

    He is spending too much and creating too much debt.

    59

    41

    18

    34

    18

    16

    8

    He hasn’t done much for us yet.

    58

    35

    22

    37

    19

    18

    5

    He is not changing things fast enough.

    55

    24

    31

    36

    19

    17

    9

    He doesn’t care about people like me.

    45

    30

    15

    49

    19

    30

    6

    He is changing things too fast.

    26

    15

    11

    66

    29

    37

    8

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

    TABLE 3

    POSITIVE STATEMENTS ABOUT PRESIDENT OBAMA – BY PARTY

    Do you agree or disagree with the following statements about President Obama?

    Percentage saying Strongly/Somewhat agree

    Base: All adults

    Jan.

    2010

    Jan.

    2011

    Jan.

    2012

    Political Party

    Republican

    Democrat

    Independent

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    He is trying to put the country back on track.

    61

    59

    57

    23

    84

    59

    He is trying to bring about much needed change.

    60

    58

    54

    23

    83

    53

    He is open, honest and trustworthy.

    54

    53

    50

    18

    79

    51

    He does a good job of explaining issues to people like me.

    NA

    51

    49

    18

    80

    48

    He is working for the people’s best interests and doing the right thing.

    51

    51

    49

    15

    81

    49

    He provides a fresh outlook with new ideas.

    56

    52

    47

    18

    75

    44

    He has made other countries feel better about the United States.

    57

    50

    43

    14

    71

    43

    Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding; NA indicates not asked in that year

    TABLE 4

    NEGATIVE STATEMENTS ABOUT PRESIDENT OBAMA – BY PARTY

    Do you agree or disagree with the following statements about President Obama?

    Percentage saying Strongly/Somewhat agree

    Base: All adults

    Jan.

    2010

    Jan.

    2011

    Jan.

    2012

    Political Party

    Republican

    Democrat

    Independent

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    He has not lived up to his campaign promises.

    60

    56

    63

    82

    48

    64

    He spends too much time talking and there isn’t enough action.

    57

    56

    61

    82

    41

    61

    He is spending too much and creating too much debt.

    61

    56

    59

    87

    34

    59

    He hasn’t done much for us yet.

    61

    53

    58

    83

    35

    60

    He is not changing things fast enough.

    43

    45

    55

    52

    55

    59

    He doesn’t care about people like me.

    NA

    41

    45

    73

    21

    44

    He is changing things too fast.

    38

    33

    26

    40

    14

    24

    Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding; NA indicates not asked in that year

    Methodology

    This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between January 16 to 23, 2012 among 2,016 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.

    J41215

    Q1233

    The Harris Poll ® #14, February 8, 2012

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

    About Harris Interactive

    Harris Interactive is one of the world’s leading custom 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 expertise in a wide range of industries including healthcare, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Serving clients in over 215 countries and territories through our North American and European offices and a network of independent market research firms, 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.