There’s A Lot of Status Quo in Attitudes Towards Washington

    NEW YORK , N.Y. – March 24, 2014 – There is the old saying the more things change, the more they stay the same. And, in the world of Washington, D.C., that definitely seems to be the case. The President is on the road touting the last days to sign up for the Affordable Care Act. There is an actual consensus on something between Congressional leaders and the White House, in the belief that Russia may be overstepping their authority with regard to Ukraine and Crimea. Also, while Mother Nature hasn’t quite caught up yet in a large part of the country, the calendar, at the very least, says that it is Spring, so that should be something to celebrate, right? Yet, what is staying the same is Americans’ attitudes towards the President, Congress and the direction of the country.

    These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,234 adults surveyed online between March 12 and 17, 2014.

    So, just like in February, this month, just over one third of U.S. adults (35%) give the President positive ratings on his overall job performance while 65% give him negative ratings. Looking at how partisans feel, 4% of Republicans and 9% of Conservatives give the President positive ratings, as do 67% of both Democrats and Liberals. Among Independents, just over one-quarter (27%) give him positive marks while over one-third of Moderates (37%) give President Obama positive ratings.

    Perceptions of Congress also haven’t changed, as more than nine in ten Americans (92%) give them negative ratings again this month while 8% give them positive ratings. While Republicans and Independents are in the low single digits for their positive ratings (4% and 5% respectively), it’s interesting that more than one in ten Democrats (12%) give Congress positive ratings.

    And, consistent with last month, 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. When asked what the two most important issues for the government to address are, 29% of Americans each say Healthcare (not Medicare), including Obamacare/ACA – which is down from 42% who said this in December – and Employment/Jobs, which is up from 27% who said this in December. Rounding out the top five most important issues to address are the economy (non-specific) at 25% (up from 24% in December), budget deficit/national debt (13%, down from 16%), and budget/government spending (9%, down from 14%).

    Individual Members of the House

    Looking at the overall job that their Member of the House of Representatives is doing, one in five Americans (21%) give them a positive rating while 68% give them a negative one and 11% say they aren’t familiar enough with their Member to rate them. In January, 20% gave their Member positive ratings while 68% gave them negative marks, so these figures are almost unchanged.

    Looking at the upcoming election, half of U.S. adults (51%) say, in thinking about their Member of Congress, that it’s time to give someone else a chance and one in five (20%) believe their Congressperson deserves to be re-elected; three in ten (29%) are not at all sure. This is also not much changed from January, when 52% said it was time to give someone else a chance and 20% believed their Congressperson deserved to be re-elected.

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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

    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

    35

    4

    67

    27

    9

    37

    67

    Excellent

    7

    2

    15

    2

    2

    6

    17

    Pretty good

    28

    3

    52

    25

    7

    32

    50

    NEGATIVE

    65

    96

    33

    73

    91

    63

    33

    Only fair

    25

    19

    24

    30

    18

    30

    23

    Poor

    40

    77

    9

    42

    73

    33

    10

    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

    8

    4

    12

    5

    5

    8

    10

    Excellent

    1

     

    2

     

    1

    1

    1

    Pretty good

    7

    4

    10

    5

    5

    7

    9

    NEGATIVE

    92

    96

    88

    95

    95

    92

    90

    Only fair

    30

    28

    30

    31

    33

    29

    26

    Poor

    63

    67

    58

    64

    62

    62

    65

    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

    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

    October

    11

    89

    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.


    TABLE5

    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

    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

     

    TABLE6

    INDIVIDUAL MEMBER OF CONGRESS’ OVERALL JOB RATING

    How would you rate the overall job your Member of the House of Representatives is doing?

    Base: All adults

     

    Nov

    2013

    Dec

    2013

    Jan

    2014

    March

    2014

    Political Party

    Political Ideology

    Rep.

    Dem.

    Ind.

    Cons.

    Mod.

    Lib.

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    POSITIVE

    19

    20

    20

    21

    22

    25

    19

    21

    19

    28

    Excellent

    3

    4

    4

    4

    5

    4

    3

    5

    3

    4

    Pretty good

    15

    17

    17

    17

    16

    20

    16

    16

    16

    24

    NEGATIVE

    71

    69

    68

    68

    71

    61

    73

    71

    70

    58

    Only fair

    31

    31

    34

    34

    37

    32

    35

    35

    37

    25

    Poor

    39

    38

    34

    34

    34

    29

    38

    36

    33

    33

    Not familiar enough to rate

    11

    11

    12

    11

    8

    14

    8

    8

    11

    14

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

     

    TABLE7

    RE-ELECT MEMBER OF CONGRESS?

    Thinking about your Member of the House of Representatives, do you thinkÉ?

    Base: All adults

     

    Nov

    2013

    Jan

    2014

    Mar.

    2014

    Political Party

    Political Ideology

    Rep.

    Dem.

    Ind.

    Cons.

    Mod.

    Lib.

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    It’s time to give someone else a chance

    52

    52

    51

    54

    50

    53

    50

    53

    48

    Your Congressperson deserves to be re-elected

    17

    20

    20

    23

    20

    18

    23

    16

    25

    Not at all sure

    31

    28

    29

    23

    29

    29

    27

    31

    27

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


    TABLE8

    MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE – TREND

    What do you think are the two most important issues for the government to address?

    Spontaneous, unprompted replies

    Base: All adults

    ’97

    ’98

    ’99

    ’00

    ’01

    ’02

    ’03

    ’04

    ’05

    ’06

    ’07

    ’08

    ’09

    ’10

    ’11

    ’12

    ’13

    ’13

    ’13

    14

    May

    Jan

    Feb

    Aug

    Dec

    Dec

    June

    Oct

    Aug

    June

    Oct

    Oct

    Mar

    Jan

    May

    Mar

    Mar

    Sept

    Dec

    Mar

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Healthcare (not Medicare) including Obamacare/ACA

    10

    11

    12

    15

    5

    10

    14

    18

    11

    12

    25

    22

    25

    45

    18

    21

    23

    33

    42

    29

    Employment/jobs

    5

    3

    4

    4

    7

    8

    8

    10

    3

    7

    5

    5

    21

    31

    33

    36

    26

    27

    27

    29

    The economy (non-specific)

    8

    9

    7

    5

    32

    34

    25

    28

    19

    14

    13

    64

    50

    32

    29

    30

    27

    26

    24

    25

    Budget deficit/National debt

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    3

    X

    17

    11

    16

    12

    16

    13

    Budget/Government spending

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    5

    6

    2

    6

    7

    9

    7

    20

    10

    14

    9

    Immigration

    2

    1

     

    1

    1

    1

    2

    2

    3

    20

    12

    3

    4

    5

    10

    5

    9

    8

    8

    9

    Education

    15

    14

    21

    25

    12

    11

    13

    7

    8

    7

    6

    6

    5

    5

    7

    7

    6

    6

    8

    6

    Taxes

    14

    16

    12

    13

    6

    5

    11

    8

    5

    4

    3

    6

    4

    4

    4

    7

    9

    5

    6

    8

    Income gap/Wealth distribution/Middle class

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    1

     

    1

    2

    4

    4

    Environment

    3

    2

    3

    3

    1

    3

    2

    1

    3

    3

    3

    2

    3

    3

    2

    2

    3

    2

    2

    4

    Foreign policy (non-specific)

    3

    5

    4

    3

    2

    4

    2

    3

    2

    2

    4

    2

    3

    2

    1

    2

    2

    3

    2

    4

    (Programs for) the poor/ poverty

    3

    2

    2

    3

    1

    2

    3

     

    4

    4

    4

     

    1

    2

    2

    1

    2

    4

    3

    3

    Wars/Armed conflicts

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    6

    4

    3

    5

    2

    3

    Bipartisanship

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    1

    1

    2

    2

    3

    2

    Social security

    6

    6

    24

    16

    3

    2

    4

    4

    10

    5

    3

    3

    1

    1

    3

    3

    3

    4

    3

    2

    Human/civil/women’s rights

    2

    1

     

    1

    1

    1

     

    1

    1

    1

    2

     

     

    1

    1

    2

    1

    2

    1

    2

    Military/defense

    2

    2

    2

    4

    4

    1

    5

    3

    1

    4

    2

    2

    2

    1

    1

    2

    1

    2

    1

    2

    Welfare

    14

    8

    4

    2

    1

    1

    3

     

    3

    1

    2

     

     

     

     

    1

    1

    1

    1

    2

    Infrastructure

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    1

     

    1

    1

    1

    2

    Homeland/domestic security/public safety

    X

    X

    X

    X

    8

    9

    3

    6

    2

    2

    2

    1

    2

    1

    1

    1

    X

    2

    2

    2

    Terrorism

    X

    X

    X

    X

    22

    17

    11

    7

    7

    4

    4

    3

    4

    6

    4

    1

    1

    1

    1

    1

    Ethics in government

     

     

     

     

    1

    1

    1

    1

    1

    1

    1

    1

    1

    1

     

    1

    1

    1

    1

    1

    Crime/violence

    19

    13

    8

    10

    1

    2

    3

    1

    3

    2

    2

    1

     

    1

    1

    1

    2

    1

    1

    1

    National security

    X

    X

    2

    2

    6

    3

    6

    5

    2

    2

    2

    5

    2

    4

    1

    1

    2

    1

     

    1

    Homelessness

    4

    4

    3

    3

    2

    2

    1

     

    1

    1

    3

     

     

    1

     

     

     

    1

     

    1

    Gas and oil prices

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    1

    1

    10

    8

    2

    1

    1

     

    12

    12

    2

    1

     

    1

    Downsizing government

    X

    X

    X

    1

     

    X

    X

    1

     

    1

    1

     

    1

    2

    1

    2

    1

    1

     

    1

    Business accountability/bailouts

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

     

     

    2

    1

     

    1

    Energy

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    1

    1

    4

    4

    1

    4

    3

    1

    2

    3

    1

    1

    1

    1

    Same sex rights

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    1

    1

    2

     

     

    1

    1

     

    1

    1

    1

    1

    1

    Obama/president

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    1

     

     

    1

    1

    1

    1

    1

    1

    1

    Russia/Putin/Ukraine

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    1

    (The) war

    X

    X

    X

    X

    12

    18

    8

    35

    41

    27

    24

    14

    9

    2

     

    X

     

     

    2

     

    NSA/Privacy issues

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

     

    1

     

    Gun laws/control

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    4

    3

    1

     

    Medicare

    4

    5

    5

    6

    1

    1

    4

    3

    2

    1

    3

    2

     

     

    2

    1

    1

    1

    1

     

    Housing

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    1

    1

     

     

    1

    2

    2

    6

    1

    1

    2

    1

     

     

     

    Inflation

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    1

    2

    3

     

    1

     

    1

    1

     

     

     

     

    Abortion

    2

    2

    2

    6

    1

    1

    1

    4

    2

    1

    2

    1

    1

    1

     

     

    1

     

     

     

    Afghanistan

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

     

    1

     

     

     

     

    Religion (decline of)

     

    1

     

    1

    2

    1

    1

    1

     

    1

    1

     

     

     

     

    1

     

     

     

     

    Programs for the elderly (not Medicare/Social Security)

    1

    1

    1

    2

    1

    1

    3

     

     

     

    1

    1

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Iraq

     

     

    1

    X

    X

    11

    3

    9

    6

    8

    14

    7

    2

    2

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Syria crisis

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    2

    X

    X

    Sequester

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    1

    X

    X

    X

    Other

    8

    19

    2

    19

    3

    8

    8

    8

    1

    6

    5

    15

    5

    1

    3

    8

    8

    8

    8

    6

    Not sure/refused/no issue

    9

    12

    16

    18

    11

    10

    12

    9

    8

    6

    8

    4

    4

    2

    4

    2

    2

    3

    2

    4

    = Less than 0.5%, X = Not mentioned as specific issue; Note: Prior to March, 2009, this question was asked via telephone


    Methodology

    This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between March 12 and 17, 2014 among 2,234 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.

    Product and brand names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

    The Harris Poll #27, March 24, 2014

    By Regina A. Corso, SVP, 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.