Some Upticks in Attitudes on the Economy and Direction of the Country

NEW YORK , N.Y. – May 21, 2013 – There is an old saying in Washington – if you want a friend, get a dog. Last week, President Obama may have been very glad he has Bo to keep him company. While the issues of the IRS, Benghazi, and subpoenaing AP records may have kept the White House a little off kilter, there are some bright spots for the President, mostly on the economy. For the first time since September of 2009, the President’s first year in office, two in five Americans (39%) give him positive marks on his overall job on handling the economy; three in five (61%) give him negative marks.

Looking at household financial conditions, while half of Americans (50%) expect their financial conditions will stay the same over the next six months, one quarter each say it will get better (26%) and that it will get worse (24%). This is an improvement from April, when just over one in five thought their household’s financial condition would get better (22%) and almost three in ten said it would get worse (28%). U.S adults are also slightly more optimistic about the coming year economically, with one-third (32%) saying they think the economy will improve and 25% saying it will get worse; two in five (42%) believe it will remain the same. In April, 29% believed it would improve while the same percentage thought it would get worse.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,240 adults surveyed online between May 8 and 13, 2013 by Harris Interactive.

There is also an improvement in how Americans believe the country as a whole is going, with two in five (39%) believing the country is going in the right direction and 61% saying things have pretty seriously gotten off on the wrong track. In March, 34% thought the country was going in the right direction while 66% said it was heading off on the wrong track.

President Obama and some specific issues

While attitudes on how President Obama is handling the economy are slowly improving, it is not the same on other issues. In looking at 9 other issues, a majority of Americans gives the President negative ratings for his handling of 8 and the public is split on the ninth issue. With terrorism, just under half give the President both positive (47%) and negative (49%) ratings. Two in five U.S. adults give President Obama positive ratings for his handling of education (41%, down from 47% in January), the environment (41%, down from 44%), his handling of the situation in North Korea (40%) and healthcare (39%, down from 43%). Just under two in five give the President positive marks for his handling of jobs (37%, down from 39%) and 35% each give him positive ratings on his handling of the unrest in the Middle East (down from 40%) and immigration (up slightly from 34%). The only place President Obama shows a marked increase is in his handling of gun control; that was a positive rating of 27% in January and is now at 33%).

The President is just four months into his second term and, by all accounts, is not having an easy time of it. Luckily for the White House, the economy’s improvement, while still not as robust as many Americans would like, is still sputtering upwards and people are taking notice of it. However, this may not be all good news for the economy. If people are no longer as worried about the economy, they may start looking at other issues in the news – and there are three keeping the White House up at night right now.

 

TABLE 1

RATINGS OF JOB OBAMA IS DOING ON SPECIFIC ISSUES

Summary Table

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

47

17

31

49

20

29

4

Education

41

11

30

53

25

28

5

The environment

41

9

32

51

28

24

7

Situation in North Korea

40

11

29

51

22

29

9

Healthcare

39

17

22

58

16

42

3

Jobs

37

11

26

61

25

35

3

The unrest in the Middle East

35

8

27

58

25

33

6

Immigration

35

9

26

61

22

38

4

Gun control

33

10

24

63

24

38

4

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

 

TABLE 2

RATINGS OF JOB OBAMA IS DOING ON SPECIFIC ISSUES

Tracking & by Political Affiliation

[Summary of Excellent + Pretty good Ratings]

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

Political Affiliation

Republican

Democrat

Independent

%

%

%

%

%

%

Terrorism

NA

NA

47

17

73

47

Education

39

47

41

14

66

38

The environment

41

44

41

18

64

39

Situation in North Korea

NA

NA

40

13

63

40

Healthcare

37

43

39

8

67

38

Jobs

29

39

37

10

62

33

The unrest in the Middle East

39

40

35

11

58

33

Immigration

NA

34

35

11

56

32

Gun control

NA

27

33

14

52

29

Note: Multiple responses; indicates <0.5%; – indicates 0%.


TABLE 3

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

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

POSITIVE (NET)

47

49

46

43

39

40

34

36

31

32

33

36

Excellent

13

13

10

3

9

7

6

6

5

5

6

6

Pretty good

34

36

36

34

31

33

27

30

25

27

27

30

NEGATIVE (NET)

53

51

54

57

61

60

66

64

69

68

67

64

Only fair

30

27

30

27

25

27

30

30

31

30

31

29

Poor

23

24

24

30

36

33

37

34

39

37

36

34

2010

2011

June

Aug

Sept

Oct

Nov

Dec

Jan

Feb

Mar

May

June

July

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

POSITIVE (NET)

32

32

29

27

31

30

33

33

33

32

27

26

Excellent

5

6

5

5

5

5

7

9

5

7

5

3

Pretty good

27

26

24

22

26

25

26

24

28

26

22

23

NEGATIVE (NET)

68

68

71

73

69

70

67

62

67

68

73

74

Only fair

32

29

31

33

30

34

30

22

29

28

30

33

Poor

37

39

40

39

39

36

37

39

38

40

43

41

2011

2012

2013

Sept.

Oct.

Nov.

Dec.

Jan.

Feb.

March

Feb

March

April

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

POSITIVE (NET)

21

23

22

25

25

32

32

36

33

39

Excellent

2

3

3

4

2

3

5

4

6

6

Pretty good

18

20

20

22

22

29

27

32

27

32

NEGATIVE (NET)

79

77

78

75

75

68

68

64

67

61

Only fair

33

36

32

34

34

30

29

26

26

26

Poor

46

41

46

41

41

38

39

38

41

35

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 4

EXPECTATIONS FOR THE ECONOMY IN THE COMING YEAR – TREND

In the coming year, do you expect the economy to…?

Base: All adults

2009

2010

April

May

Aug

Sept

Oct

May

June

Aug

Sept

Oct

Nov

Dec

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Improve

39

38

46

40

34

38

30

29

28

30

34

29

Stay the same

35

35

32

36

37

34

42

39

40

40

41

45

Get worse

26

27

22

24

29

28

28

32

32

30

25

26

2011

2012

2013

Feb

June

July

Sept.

Oct.

Dec.

Feb.

Feb.

March

April

May

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Improve

34

26

23

21

20

23

36

32

30

29

32

Stay the same

42

41

41

45

46

47

40

40

37

41

42

Get worse

25

33

37

34

34

29

24

28

33

29

25

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

 

TABLE 5

EXPECTATIONS FOR HOUSEHOLD FINANCIAL CONDITION IN NEXT SIX MONTHS

Thinking about your household’s financial condition, do you expect it to be better or worse in the next 6 months?

Base: All adults

2013

Feb.

March

April

May

%

%

%

%

BETTER (NET)

23

21

22

26

Much better

3

3

4

5

Somewhat better

20

17

18

20

Will remain the same

50

49

49

50

WORSE (NET)

27

30

28

24

Somewhat worse

20

21

20

18

Much worse

7

9

8

6

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


TABLE 6

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

%

%

2013

May

39

61

 

March

34

66

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

 

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Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between May 8 and 13, 2013 among 2,240 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.

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705, 713, 730, 1111, 1205

 

The Harris Poll ® #28, May 21, 2013

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

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