More Than Two in Five Americans Wish Reagan and Clinton Could Have Had a Third Term; Less Than One in Five Say This About Obama and Bush

    NEW YORK , N.Y. – July 24, 2014 – Normally, summer is a quiet time in Washington, D.C. Congress comes back to finish off a few things before heading out for summer recess and even the President gets to take a little time off with his family. This summer, however, is anything but quiet. In addition to the various crises the White House has to handle, they also have to deal with an unhappy nation. Just one-third of Americans (34%) give President Obama positive ratings for the overall job he is doing, while two-thirds (66%) give him negative ratings. This is down from last month when almost two in four U.S. adults (38%) gave the President positive marks and over three in five (62%) gave him negative ones.

    These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,306 adults surveyed online between July 16 and 21, 2014.

    The President isn’t alone in the Administration with low approval ratings. Half of Americans (50%) give Vice President Joe Biden negative ratings for his job, three in ten (30%) give him positive ratings, and one in five (21%) are not familiar enough with him to have an opinion. This is unchanged from January of this year.

    Looking at the Secretary of State, a man who has been extremely busy of late, three in ten Americans (31%) give John Kerry positive ratings for the job he is doing, more than two in five (44%) give him negative ratings, and one-quarter (26%) are not familiar enough to have an opinion. This is very similar to January when 32% gave him positive marks, 43% gave him negative ratings, and 25% were not familiar with him.

    Meanwhile, down at the other end of the National Mall, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court has been in the news recently, as this year’s court term came to an end with a flurry of hot button rulings. But, over half of Americans (52%) say they are not familiar enough with Chief Justice John Roberts to have an opinion of him. Three in ten (31%) give him negative ratings, while less than one in five (17%) give him positive ratings.

    Feelings on the direction the country is going in have gone down again this month. Last month, one-third of Americans (33%) said things were going in the right direction in the country, while two-thirds (67%) said things had gotten off on the wrong track. This month, three in ten (31%) say things are going in the right direction, while seven in ten (69%) say things are going off on the wrong track.

    A third term?

    In the past fifty years, only four Presidents, including the current one, have had two full terms. At this point in their tenure, it seems there is a little symmetry at play. Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton each had soaring job ratings at this point in their second term – 66% for President Reagan and 63% for President Clinton (with negatives of 32% and 36% respectively). Presidents Bush, on the other hand, had soaring negatives at 65% similar to President Obama’s 66% (with positives of 34% and 34% respectively). Regardless, would the American public want any of these men to have had or have the chance to take the oath of office for a third term? Two in five U.S. adults wish Ronald Reagan (42%) and Bill Clinton (42%) could have had a third term, while less than one in five say the same for Barack Obama (16%) and George W. Bush (15%).

    When it comes to the partisan differences, each party backs their own, but there are favorites as over three-quarters of Republicans (77%) say they wish President Reagan could have had a third term compared to one-third (32%) for President Bush. Similarly among Democrats, two-thirds (68%) wish President Clinton could have had a third term while over one-third (36%) say the same about President Obama. For Independents, just over two in five (41%) would want a third Reagan term, while just under (39%) would have a third Clinton term.

    But Americans are happy with the two term limit as over half (53%) say that Presidents should not be allowed to run for a third term. Almost two in five (38%) agree and one in ten (9%) are not at all sure. There is a strong partisan difference as three in five Democrats (59%) say presidents should be allowed to run for a third term, while seven in ten Republicans disagree with this idea. Would this be flipped if a Republican was currently in the White House and not a Democrat?

     

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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

    July

    34

    66

     

    June

    38

    62

    May

    38

    62

    April

    33

    67

    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

    34

    6

    65

    26

    12

    34

    63

    Excellent

    8

    2

    17

    4

    5

    5

    19

    Pretty good

    26

    4

    48

    22

    7

    29

    44

    NEGATIVE

    66

    94

    35

    74

    88

    66

    37

    Only fair

    26

    16

    27

    30

    16

    33

    27

    Poor

    40

    78

    7

    44

    72

    34

    10

    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

    July

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Vice President Joe Biden

    70

    71

    72

    72

    71

    72

    71

    78

    76

    67

    80

    79

    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

    74

    Chief Justice John Roberts

    40

    n/a

    n/a

    n/a

    36

    40

    n/a

    n/a

    n/a

    n/a

    48

    46

    48

    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

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Secretary of State John Kerry

    31

    7

    24

    44

    22

    22

    26

    Vice President Joe Biden

    30

    7

    23

    50

    22

    28

    21

    Chief Justice John Roberts

    17

    3

    14

    31

    20

    11

    52

    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

    July

    %

    30

    50

    21

    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

    July

    %

    17

    31

    52

    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

    July

    %

    31

    44

    26

    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

    July

    31

    69

     

    June

    33

    67

    May

    35

    65

    April

    34

    66

    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

     

    TABLE 9

    WHO SHOULD HAVE HAD A THIRD TERM

    Thinking now of all these presidents who had 2 terms, which of them, if any, do you wish could have had or could have a third term? Please select all that apply.

    Base: All adults

     

    Total

    Political Party

    Political Ideology

    Rep.

    Dem.

    Ind.

    Cons.

    Mod.

    Lib.

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Ronald Reagan

    42

    77

    18

    41

    66

    37

    21

    Bill Clinton

    42

    14

    68

    39

    18

    46

    65

    Barack Obama

    16

    2

    36

    9

    6

    14

    35

    George W. Bush

    15

    32

    6

    12

    27

    11

    6

    None of these

    16

    10

    9

    25

    14

    19

    13

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

     

    TABLE 10

    SHOULD THERE BE THREE TERMS FOR PRESIDENT

    How strongly do you agree or disagree with the following statement? – Presidents should be allowed to run for a third term

    Base: All adults

     

    Total

    Political Party

    Political Ideology

    Rep.

    Dem.

    Ind.

    Cons.

    Mod.

    Lib.

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    AGREE (NET)

    38

    21

    59

    32

    24

    39

    54

    Strongly agree

    13

    7

    23

    9

    10

    12

    20

    Somewhat agree

    25

    14

    36

    22

    15

    26

    34

    DISAGREE (NET)

    53

    69

    35

    61

    68

    51

    37

    Somewhat disagree

    17

    16

    18

    17

    15

    17

    19

    Strongly disagree

    36

    52

    16

    44

    53

    34

    19

    Not at all sure

    9

    11

    7

    8

    8

    10

    9

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

     

    Methodology

    This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between July 17 and 21, 2014 among 2,306 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.

    The Harris Poll #73, June 24, 2014

    By Regina A. Corso, VP, The Harris Poll and Public Relations Research