Positive Ratings for Congress Rise… Out of the Single Digits

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Numbers seem fairly static on the surface, but in truth they can be quite subjective. For example, the number 11 might mark a triumph on the baseball field or a singularly unimpressive showing on the basketball court. Similarly, the 11% of Americans rating Congress positively on the overall job it’s doing (up from 9% last month) may seem like little cause for celebration. But it’s worth noting that it’s only the second time this year (the other being late January, when this rating stood at 10%) that it’s been in the double digits – and that the last time it was as high as 11% was in April… of 2012.

  • Democrats (15%) are roughly twice as likely as either Republicans (7%) or Independents (8%) to give Congress positive ratings.
  • Looking outside of political parties and more to underlying political philosophies, approval ratings for Congress are more consistent, with 11% each of Conservatives and Liberals approving of the job Congress is doing while 10% of Moderates indicate the same.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll® of 2,273 adults surveyed online between July 15 and 20, 2015.

Two in ten Americans (21%) give positive ratings specifically to the job their member of the House of Representatives is doing, down from roughly one fourth last month.

President Obama’s ratings

Positive ratings of President Obama’s overall job performance continue to hover around the four in ten mark (at 39%), between last month’s 38% and May’s 41%; though his current 39% positive rating is up compared to a year ago, when 34% gave the President positive job ratings.

A similar 38% of U.S. adults rate President Obama positively on the job he’s doing handling the economy, up slightly from 36% last month but a hair’s breadth below the 39% seen the month before that. Similar to general job performance ratings, positive perceptions of President Obama’s work on the economy are up in comparison to July of last year (when 30% of Americans thought the President was doing a good job in this area).

  • On both these measures, strong majorities of Democrats approve of his performance (71% overall, 68% for his performance on the economy) while two-thirds of Independents (67% for both measures) and more than nine in ten Republicans (94% overall, 92% economy) disapprove.

Ratings for overall state of the country bounce back some

Last month, the perception that the country was headed in the right direction was at its lowest point of 2015. For July this percentage has made something of a comeback, up from 30% in June to 34% for July but still well short of the 2015 peak of 44% seen in late January (just after the State of the Union address).

July’s increase is driven in part by Democrats, with the perception among this group that things in the U.S. are headed in the right direction rising from 50% last month to 58% in July. Majorities of Republicans (87%) and Independents (71%), on the other hand, continue to believe things in this country have gotten off on the wrong track.

 

 

TABLE 1a

PRESIDENT OBAMA’S JOB RATING – TREND

“How would you rate the overall job President Barack Obama is doing?”

                Base: All adults

 

TREND

Positive*

Negative**

%

%

2015

July

39

61

 

June

38

62

May

41

59

Apr

38

62

Mar

37

63

Feb

38

62

Jan (post-SOTU)

42

58

Jan (pre-SOTU)

39

61

2014

December

33

67

 

November

35

65

October

34

66

September

30

70

August

32

68

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

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 1b

PRESIDENT OBAMA’S JOB RATING – By Political Party & Political 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

39

6

71

33

17

39

68

    Excellent

9

*

21

5

6

7

18

    Pretty good

30

6

50

28

11

32

50

NEGATIVE

61

94

29

67

83

61

32

    Only fair

27

22

23

33

22

34

22

    Poor

34

72

6

34

61

28

9

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


TABLE 2a

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

June

Aug

Sept

Oct

Nov

Dec

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

POSITIVE (NET)

47

49

46

43

39

40

34

36

31

32

33

36

32

32

29

27

31

30

      Excellent

13

13

10

3

9

7

6

6

5

5

6

6

5

6

5

5

5

5

      Pretty good

34

36

36

34

31

33

27

30

25

27

27

30

27

26

24

22

26

25

NEGATIVE (NET)

53

51

54

57

61

60

66

64

69

68

67

64

68

68

71

73

69

70

      Only fair

30

27

30

27

25

27

30

30

31

30

31

29

32

29

31

33

30

34

      Poor

23

24

24

30

36

33

37

34

39

37

36

34

37

39

40

39

39

36

 

 

2011

2012

2013

Jan

Feb*

Mar

May

June

July

Sept

Oct

Nov

Dec

Jan

Feb

Mar

Feb

Mar

Apr

June

July

Sept

Oct

Nov

Dec

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

POSITIVE (NET)

33

33

33

32

27

26

21

23

22

25

25

32

32

36

33

39

35

33

29

30

30

29

  Excellent

7

9

5

7

5

3

2

3

3

4

2

3

5

4

6

6

5

5

4

5

6

4

  Pretty good

26

24

28

26

22

23

18

20

20

22

22

29

27

32

27

32

31

28

28

25

24

25

NEGATIVE (NET)

67

62

67

68

73

74

79

77

78

75

75

68

68

64

67

61

65

67

71

70

70

71

   Only fair

30

22

29

28

30

33

33

36

32

34

34

30

29

26

26

26

29

29

31

28

29

30

   Poor

37

39

38

40

43

41

46

41

46

41

41

38

39

38

41

35

36

38

40

42

41

41

 

 

2014

2015

 

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

June

July

Aug

Sept

Oct

Nov

Dec

Jan (pre-SOTU)

Jan (Post-SOTU)

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

June

July

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

POSITIVE (NET)

28

31

31

32

35

32

30

30

29

33

35

34

39

42

40

38

38

39

36

38

      Excellent

5

4

5

5

5

7

7

6

6

5

8

9

10

10

9

10

10

10

8

6

      Pretty good

23

27

26

27

29

25

23

25

24

27

26

25

29

32

31

28

27

29

28

31

NEGATIVE (NET)

72

69

69

68

65

68

70

70

71

67

65

66

61

58

60

62

62

61

64

62

      Only fair

30

29

27

29

26

28

27

31

31

29

29

30

26

27

28

28

28

25

28

27

      Poor

42

40

42

39

39

40

43

39

40

38

36

36

34

31

32

34

35

35

35

36

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 2b

PRESIDENT OBAMA’S JOB RATING ON THE ECONOMY – By Political Party & Political Ideology

“How would you rate the overall job that President Barack Obama is doing on the economy?”

Base: All adults

 

Total

Political Party

Political Ideology

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

Cons.

Mod.

Lib.

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

POSITIVE

38

8

68

33

18

39

61

    Excellent

6

15

3

3

6

13

    Pretty good

31

8

53

30

16

33

48

NEGATIVE

62

92

32

67

82

61

39

    Only fair

27

25

23

28

20

32

25

    Poor

36

68

8

39

62

29

14

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding; — indicates response was not selected 

 

TABLE 3a

CONGRESS’ OVERALL JOB RATING – Trend

“How would you rate the overall job Congress is doing?”

Base: All adults

 

TREND

Positive*

Negative**

%

%

2015

July

11

89

 

June

9

91

May

9

91

April

9

91

March

7

93

February

9

91

Jan (post-SOTU)

10

90

Jan (Pre-SOTU)

9

91

2014

December

7

93

 

October

8

92

September

7

93

August

8

92

July

9

91

June

10

90

May

7

93

April

7

93

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

 

July

8

92

May

13

87

January

16

84

2010

December

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. 

 

TABLE 3b

CONGRESS’ OVERALL JOB RATING – By Political Party & Political Ideology

“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

11

7

15

8

11

10

11

    Excellent

1

*

2

1

2

*

*

    Pretty good

10

7

13

8

8

10

10

NEGATIVE

89

93

85

92

89

90

89

    Only fair

37

39

40

34

38

39

34

    Poor

52

54

45

57

52

51

55

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

* indicates fewer than <0.5% selected this response

— indicates no selections for this response 


TABLE 4

INDIVIDUAL MEMBER OF CONGRESS’ OVERALL JOB RATING – Trend

“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

June

2014

Sept 2014

Oct 2014

Mar 2015

Apr 2015

May 2015

June 2015

July 2015

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

POSITIVE

19

20

20

21

22

18

23

22

24

22

24

21

    Excellent

3

4

4

4

4

3

4

4

3

4

3

3

    Pretty good

15

17

17

17

18

15

19

19

21

18

21

18

NEGATIVE

71

69

68

68

65

70

65

66

63

66

63

63

    Only fair

31

31

34

34

32

36

35

36

38

37

34

36

    Poor

39

38

34

34

32

34

30

30

25

28

28

27

Not familiar enough to rate

11

11

12

11

13

12

12

12

13

13

13

16

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

 

 

TABLE 4b

INDIVIDUAL MEMBER OF CONGRESS’ OVERALL JOB RATING  – Political Party & Political Ideology

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

Base: All adults

 

Total

Political Party

Political Ideology

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

Cons.

Mod.

Lib.

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

POSITIVE

21

24

24

17

24

20

19

    Excellent

3

2

4

2

5

1

3

    Pretty good

18

22

20

15

19

19

16

NEGATIVE

63

65

58

68

63

64

62

    Only fair

36

42

35

35

37

38

32

    Poor

27

23

23

34

26

26

30

Not familiar enough to rate

16

11

18

15

13

16

19

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


TABLE 5a 

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

%

%

2015

July

34

66

 

June

30

70

 

May

35

65

April

33

67

March

35

65

Feb

38

62

Jan (Post-SOTU)

44

56

Jan (Pre-SOTU)

38

62

2014

December

30

70

 

November

34

66

October

34

66

September

29

71

August

32

68

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 5b

RIGHT DIRECTION OR WRONG TRACK – By Political Party & Political Ideology

“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

 

Total

Political Party

Political Ideology

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

Cons.

Mod.

Lib.

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Right direction

34

13

58

29

17

37

52

Wrong track

66

87

42

71

83

63

48

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

 

 

Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online, in English, within the United States between July 15 and 20, 2015 among 2,273 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® #46, July 30, 2015

By Larry Shannon-Missal, Managing Editor, The Harris Poll