Before State of the Union, President Obama Again at Low Point for Job Ratings

NEW YORK , N.Y. – January 27, 2014 – This week, President Obama lays out his plan for the upcoming year, providing the issues he believes are important and the programs to help Americans in the annual State of the Union. He also needs to state how the country is going and just three in ten Americans (31%) say things in the country are going in the right direction, while 69% say things are going off on the wrong track. This is down from last month when 33% said things were going in the right direction and 67% believed things were going off on the wrong track.

As the President addresses the country, one thing that may hamper his ability to pass legislation is that he does not have strong job approval ratings. This month just under one-third of Americans (32%) give him positive ratings for the job he is doing, while 68% give him negative ratings. This is slightly down from last month, when 34% gave the President positive marks and 66% gave him negative ones. This is the third time since the President began his first term that his positive ratings have been this low. The last time was just two months ago in November, and the first time was in September of 2011.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll® of 2,311 adults surveyed online between January 15 and 20, 2014 by Harris Interactive.

When it comes to moving his agenda forward, the odds are always that Democrats will be supportive of the President’s initiatives and with over three in five of his own party (62%) giving President Obama positive ratings they probably will again this year. And, on the other hand, since just 8% of Republicans give President Obama positive ratings for the overall job he is doing, the odds here are that will they not be supportive of his agenda. So, the tie goes to the Independents and, unfortunately for the White House, just 22% give the President positive marks this month.

The surrogates

As the President moves forward his agenda, often the Vice President and members of the Cabinet are used as surrogates to assist in spreading the reasons to support the President. But, how do Americans think some of them are doing? Looking at the Vice President, just three in ten (30%) rate the job he is doing positively, while half (50%) rate it negatively and 21% are not familiar enough with him to have an opinion. In July, one-third of Americans (33%) rated the job Vice President Biden was doing positively, while 47% gave it negative marks; one in five (20%) were not familiar enough with him to have an opinion. The Secretary of State historically has had better numbers than other figures in Washington, with one suggested reason being that the focus on international affairs kept them out of the Inside the Beltway fray. Unfortunately, maybe because he was a presidential candidate and very familiar to the U.S. public, Secretary Kerry does not have that same goodwill as just 32% of Americans give the job he is doing positively, 43% negatively and 25% are not familiar enough to have an opinion. This is slightly down from July when 34% of U.S. adults gave him positive marks and 39% gave him negative ratings.

Not a surrogate by any means, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court can either be a help to the White House’s agenda or a hindrance depending on his interpretation of the U.S. Constitution if any piece of the agenda makes its way to the Court. Over half of Americans (54%) are not familiar enough with Chief Justice Roberts to have an opinion, while 16% give him positive ratings and three in ten (30%) rate the job he is doing negatively.

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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

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

32

8

62

22

10

35

62

Excellent

6

1

14

4

3

6

13

Pretty good

26

7

49

19

8

29

48

NEGATIVE

68

92

38

78

90

65

38

Only fair

29

25

29

33

24

33

27

Poor

38

67

9

44

66

32

11

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

 

TABLE 3

FAMILIARITY WITH VICE PRESIDENT, SECRETARY OF STATE AND CHIEF JUSTICE

Are you familiar enough with each of the following to have an opinion regarding them?

Base: All adults

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

Mar

Aug

Dec

Mar

June

Oct

Jan

May

Oct

Jan

July

Jan

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Vice President Joe Biden

70

71

72

72

71

72

71

78

76

67

80

79

Secretary of State John Kerry

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

73

75

Chief Justice John Roberts

40

n/a

n/a

n/a

36

40

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

48

46

Note: N/a indicates not asked

 

TABLE 4

RATINGS OF VICE PRESIDENT, SECRETARY OF STATE AND CHIEF JUSTICE

How would you rate the overall job each of the following is doing?

Base: All adults

Positive

Excellent

Pretty Good

Negative

Only Fair

Poor

Not Familiar

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Vice President Joe Biden

30

5

25

50

22

28

21

Secretary of State John Kerry

32

6

26

43

22

20

25

Chief Justice John Roberts

16

2

14

30

18

11

54

Positive = excellent or pretty good Negative = only fair or poor

 

TABLE 5

RATING OF VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN – TREND

How would you rate the job Vice-President Joe Biden is doing?

Base: All adults

Positive

Negative

Not Familiar

2014

January

%

30

50

21

2013

July

%

33

47

20

2012

Jan.

%

22

45

33

2011

Oct.

%

30

46

24

May

%

35

43

22

Jan.

%

33

39

29

2010

Oct.

%

26

46

28

June

%

26

45

29

March

%

29

44

28

Jan.

%

28

39

33

2009

Dec.

%

30

42

28

Sept.

%

30

41

30

Aug.

%

33

38

29

June

%

30

38

32

May

%

32

36

31

April

%

34

32

33

March

%

35

35

30

Excellent or pretty good. Only fair or poor. Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% because of rounding.

 

TABLE 6

RATING OF SUPREME COURT CHIEF JUSTICE JOHN ROBERTS – TREND

How would you rate the job Chief Justice John Roberts is doing?

Base: All adults

Positive

Negative

Not Familiar

2014

Jan.

%

16

30

54

2013

July

%

18

30

52

2010

Oct.

%

20

20

60

June

%

18

19

64

June

%

21

15

63

March

%

25

16

60

Excellent or pretty good. Only fair or poor. Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% because of rounding.

 

TABLE 7

RATING OF SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY – TREND

How would you rate the job Secretary of State John Kerry is doing?

Base: All adults

Positive

Negative

Not Familiar

2014

Jan.

%

32

43

25

2013

July

%

34

39

27

Excellent or pretty good. Only fair or poor. Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% because of rounding.


TABLE 8

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

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

 

Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between January 15 and 20, 2014 among 2,236 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.

J44474

Q1205, 1210, 1225, 1228

The Harris Poll® #10, January 27, 2014

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

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