As Government Shutdown Looms, Approval Ratings for President Obama and Congress Move Lower

    NEW YORK , N.Y. – September 30, 2013 – As the clock continues to tick towards the looming government shutdown, all signs are pointing to the government actually shutting down non-essential functions at midnight, October 1st. As the finger pointing from the White House and within the two chambers of Congress continues, Americans are showing their displeasure in slipping approval numbers for both of these branches of the government. There is also a dip in the perceived direction of the country: this month 29% of Americans believe the country is going in the right direction, while 71% say it’s seriously off on the wrong track. In July, 34% believed it was going in the right direction and 66% said it was off on the wrong track.

    These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,577 adults surveyed online between September 18 and 24, 2013 by Harris Interactive.

    Looking at President Obama, in July 39% of Americans gave him positive ratings for the overall job he was doing, while 61% gave the President negative ratings. This month, just one-third of Americans (34%) give the President positive marks for the overall job he is doing while two-thirds (66%) give him negative ratings.

    While it’s not surprising that 93% of Republicans and 88% of Conservatives give President Obama negative ratings, so do three-quarters of Independents (75%) and two-thirds of Moderates (65%). Within the President’s own base, while 64% of both Democrats and Liberals give him positive marks, over one-third of each (36%) give him negative ratings.

    It’s much worse for Congress

    In both June and July of this year, the ratings for Congress were bad. Just 9% of Americans gave them positive ratings and 91% gave Congress negative marks for the overall job it is doing. Well, it’s gone even further down, and this month just 7% of U.S. adults give Congress positive ratings while 93% give them negative ones. This is something that brings those of all political persuasions together: nine in ten Democrats (90%) and over nine in ten Republicans (95%) and Independents (96%) give Congress negative ratings.

    Healthcare and the economy

    When asked what the two most important issues are for the government to address, one-third of Americans (33%) say it is healthcare, including Obamacare and Affordable Care Act mentions. The rest of the top five issues are all related to the economy. One-quarter each say the most important issue is employment/jobs (27%) and non-specific mentions of the economy (26%). About one in ten Americans each say that the budget deficit/national debt (12%) and the Budget/government spending (10%) are the most important issues for the government to address.

    To see other recent Harris Polls, please visit the Harris Poll News Room.

    Want Harris Polls delivered direct to your inbox? Click here!

     

    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

    %

    %

    2013

    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

    June

    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

    34

    7

    64

    25

    12

    35

    64

    Excellent

    5

    1

    12

    2

    2

    5

    11

    Pretty good

    29

    6

    53

    23

    10

    30

    53

    NEGATIVE

    66

    93

    36

    75

    88

    65

    36

    Only fair

    29

    24

    28

    33

    18

    38

    25

    Poor

    36

    69

    8

    42

    70

    27

    11

    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

    7

    5

    10

    4

    7

    6

    7

    Excellent

    7

    1

    1

     

    1

    1

     

    Pretty good

    6

    4

    8

    4

    6

    5

    6

    NEGATIVE

    93

    95

    90

    96

    93

    94

    93

    Only fair

    33

    43

    33

    27

    35

    34

    31

    Poor

    60

    52

    58

    69

    58

    60

    62

    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

    %

    %

    2013

    September

    7

    93

     

    July

    9

    91

    June

    9

    91

    March

    6

    94

    2012

    December

    8

    92

    September

    10

    90

    April

    11

    89

    March

    9

    91

    January

    6

    94

    2011

    December

    5

    95

     

    November

    5

    95

    October

    5

    95

    September

    6

    94

    July

    8

    92

    June

    11

    89

    May

    13

    87

    April

    8

    92

    March

    10

    90

    February

    14

    86

    January

    16

    84

    2010

    December

    11

    89

     

    November

    13

    87

    October

    11

    89

    June

    14

    86

    April

    16

    84

    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.


    TABLE 5

    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

    %

    %

    2013

    September

    29

    71

     

    July

    34

    66

     

    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

     

    TABLE 6

    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

    May

    Jan

    Feb

    Aug

    Dec

    Dec

    June

    Oct

    Aug

    June

    Oct

    Oct

    Mar

    Jan

    May

    Mar

    Mar

    June

    Sept

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Healthcare (not Medicare) including Obamacare/ACA

    10

    11

    12

    15

    5

    10

    14

    18

    11

    12

    25

    22

    25

    45

    18

    21

    23

    22

    33

    Employment/jobs

    5

    3

    4

    4

    7

    8

    8

    10

    3

    7

    5

    5

    21

    31

    33

    36

    26

    30

    27

    The economy (non-specific)

    8

    9

    7

    5

    32

    34

    25

    28

    19

    14

    13

    64

    50

    32

    29

    30

    27

    32

    26

    Budget deficit/National debt

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    3

    X

    17

    11

    16

    10

    12

    Budget/Government spending

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    5

    6

    2

    6

    7

    9

    7

    20

    7

    10

    Immigration

    2

    1

     

    1

    1

    1

    2

    2

    3

    20

    12

    3

    4

    5

    10

    5

    9

    13

    8

    Education

    15

    14

    21

    25

    12

    11

    13

    7

    8

    7

    6

    6

    5

    5

    7

    7

    6

    7

    6

    Wars/Armed conflicts

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    6

    4

    3

    2

    5

    Taxes

    14

    16

    12

    13

    6

    5

    11

    8

    5

    4

    3

    6

    4

    4

    4

    7

    9

    7

    5

    (Programs for) the poor/ poverty

    3

    2

    2

    3

    1

    2

    3

     

    4

    4

    4

     

    1

    2

    2

    1

    2

    2

    4

    Social security

    6

    6

    24

    16

    3

    2

    4

    4

    10

    5

    3

    3

    1

    1

    3

    3

    3

    4

    4

    Foreign policy (non-specific)

    3

    5

    4

    3

    2

    4

    2

    3

    2

    2

    4

    2

    3

    2

    1

    2

    2

    2

    3

    Gun laws/control

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    4

    3

    3

    Homeland/domestic security/public safety

    X

    X

    X

    X

    8

    9

    3

    6

    2

    2

    2

    1

    2

    1

    1

    1

    X

    1

    2

    Syria crisis

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    2

    Bipartisanship

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    1

    1

    2

    1

    2

    Income gap/Wealth distribution/Middle class

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    1

     

    1

     

    2

    Environment

    3

    2

    3

    3

    1

    3

    2

    1

    3

    3

    3

    2

    3

    3

    2

    2

    3

    3

    2

    Human/civil/women’s rights

    2

    1

     

    1

    1

    1

     

    1

    1

    1

    2

     

     

    1

    1

    2

    1

    2

    2

    Military/defense

    2

    2

    2

    4

    4

    1

    5

    3

    1

    4

    2

    2

    2

    1

    1

    2

    1

    2

    2

    Terrorism

    X

    X

    X

    X

    22

    17

    11

    7

    7

    4

    4

    3

    4

    6

    4

    1

    1

    3

    1

    National security

    X

    X

    2

    2

    6

    3

    6

    5

    2

    2

    2

    5

    2

    4

    1

    1

    2

    3

    1

    Crime/violence

    19

    13

    8

    10

    1

    2

    3

    1

    3

    2

    2

    1

     

    1

    1

    1

    2

    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

    Welfare

    14

    8

    4

    2

    1

    1

    3

     

    3

    1

    2

     

     

     

     

    1

    1

    1

    1

    Energy

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    1

    1

    4

    4

    1

    4

    3

    1

    2

    3

    1

    1

    1

    Infrastructure

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    1

     

    1

    1

    1

    Same sex rights

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    1

    1

    2

     

     

    1

    1

     

    1

    1

    1

    1

    Homelessness

    4

    4

    3

    3

    2

    2

    1

     

    1

    1

    3

     

     

    1

     

     

     

     

    1

    Obama/president

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    1

     

     

    1

    1

    1

    1

    1

    1

    Ethics in government

     

     

     

     

    1

    1

    1

    1

    1

    1

    1

    1

    1

    1

     

    1

    1

    3

    1

    Medicare

    4

    5

    5

    6

    1

    1

    4

    3

    2

    1

    3

    2

     

     

    2

    1

    1

    1

    1

    Business accountability/bailouts

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

     

     

    2

    1

    1

    Housing

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    1

    1

     

     

    1

    2

    2

    6

    1

    1

    2

    1

    1

     

    Inflation

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    1

    2

    3

     

    1

     

    1

    1

     

    1

     

    NSA/Privacy issues

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    2

     

    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

     

     

     

    X

     

    (The) war

    X

    X

    X

    X

    12

    18

    8

    35

    41

    27

    24

    14

    9

    2

     

    X

     

    X

     

    Sequester

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    X

    1

    X

    X

    Other

    8

    19

    2

    19

    3

    8

    8

    8

    1

    6

    5

    15

    5

    1

    3

    8

    8

    8

    8

    Not sure/refused/no issue

    9

    12

    16

    18

    11

    10

    12

    9

    8

    6

    8

    4

    4

    2

    4

    2

    2

    2

    3

    = 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 September 18 and 24, 2013 among 2,577 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.

    J43566

    Q1205, 1210, 1215, 1220

    The Harris Poll® #68, September 30, 2013

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

     

    About Harris Interactive

    Harris Interactive is one of the world’s leading 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 proprietary solutions in the areas of market and customer insight, corporate brand and reputation strategy, and marketing, advertising, public relations and communications research. Harris possesses expertise in a wide range of industries including health care, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Additionally, Harris has a portfolio of multi-client offerings that complement our custom solutions while maximizing our client’s research investment. Serving clients in more than 196 countries and territories through our North American and European offices, 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.