Three-Quarters of Americans Say Country Going Off on Wrong Track

    NEW YORK , N.Y. – July 20, 2011 – The debate on the debt ceiling continues and the deadline looms even larger as it appears the government may face default. From one day to another there are conflicting stories about what might happen and this is definitely weighing on the American psyche. Just one-quarter of U.S. adults (25%) believes things in the country are going in the right direction while three-quarters (75%) say they have pretty seriously gotten off on the wrong track. This is a big drop from last month when one-third (32%) said things were going in the right direction and 68% believed they were off on the wrong track.

    These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,183 adults surveyed online between July 11 and 18, 2011.

    President Obama’s ratings

    Thoughts about the country changed, but opinions on how President Obama is doing his job have not. Just like last month, less than two in five Americans (38%) give the President positive ratings on the overall job he is doing and 62% give him negative marks. Nine in ten Republicans (92%) and Conservatives (89%) give the President negative marks which is not all that surprising. But two-thirds of Independents (68%), three in five Moderates (60%) and even one-third of Democrats (33%) and three in ten Liberals (29%) give the overall job President Obama is doing negative ratings.

    Congressional ratings

    President Obama’s ratings may not have changed, but Congress’s job ratings have slid down even further. In June, one in ten Americans (11%) gave Congress positive marks for their overall job and 89% gave them negative ones. This month, just 8% of Americans give Congress positive ratings and 92% give them negative marks. And party doesn’t matter as 89% of Democrats, 93% of Republicans and 95% of Independents all give Congress negative ratings.

    President Obama’s re-election

    As his job ratings haven’t changed neither have President Obama’s re-election numbers. In June, just over half (52%) of Americans said, if the election for President were held today, they would be unlikely to vote for President Obama and 41% said they would be likely. This month, 52% again say they would be unlikely to vote for him while 42% would be likely. Again, Republicans are holding steady with nine in ten (88%) saying they would be unlikely to vote for him. However over half of Independents (57%) and one in five Democrats (21%) also say they would be unlikely to vote for President Obama if the election were held today.

    Also telling is what could become a self-fulfilling prophecy. While the election is still over a year away, only one-third of Americans (35%) think President Obama will be re-elected, two in five (42%) do not think he will be re-elected and one-quarter (23%) are not at all sure. Among his own partisans, while 59% of Democrats believe the President will be re-elected, one in five say they do not think he will be (19%) or are not at all sure (21%).

    So What?

    In politics, especially when it comes to upcoming elections, 15 months is multiple lifetimes. So much can happen between now and this November, much less next November, and these numbers will change often over the coming months. But, at the same time, they are a snapshot into the mind of the American voter right now and, for the White House and incumbents in Congress, this is not a pretty picture. People are unhappy. Are they angry voters? That we don’t know yet. But if these numbers continue like this, next November could see incumbents of both parties losing in large numbers as voters look for someone new to try to solve their problems.

     

    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

    %

    %

    2011

    July

    38

    62

     

    June

    38

    62

    May 19th

    45

    55

    May 9th

    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

    38

    8

    67

    32

    11

    40

    71

    Excellent

    7

    1

    14

    4

    2

    7

    14

    Pretty good

    31

    7

    53

    28

    9

    33

    56

    NEGATIVE

    62

    92

    33

    68

    89

    60

    29

    Only fair

    29

    30

    25

    29

    26

    34

    19

    Poor

    34

    63

    8

    39

    63

    25

    10

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

     

    TABLE 3

    PRESIDENT OBAMA’S JOB RATING – BY REGION, EDUCATION & GENDER

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

    Base: All adults

     

    Total

    Region

    Education

    East

    Midwest

    South

    West

    H.S. or less

    Some college

    College grad

    Post grad

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    POSITIVE

    38

    36

    41

    34

    42

    30

    37

    46

    57

    Excellent

    7

    8

    6

    7

    7

    6

    6

    6

    16

    Pretty good

    31

    28

    35

    27

    35

    24

    31

    41

    40

    NEGATIVE

    62

    64

    59

    66

    58

    70

    63

    54

    43

    Only fair

    29

    36

    28

    27

    25

    31

    28

    28

    22

    Poor

    34

    29

    31

    40

    33

    39

    35

    26

    22

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

     

    TABLE 4

    CONGRESS’ OVERALL JOB RATING

    How would you rate the overall job Congress is doing?

    Base: All adults

     

    Total

    Political Party

    Rep.

    Dem.

    Ind.

    %

    %

    %

    %

    POSITIVE

    8

    7

    11

    5

    Excellent

    1

    1

    1

    1

    Pretty good

    7

    6

    9

    4

    NEGATIVE

    92

    93

    89

    95

    Only fair

    38

    43

    37

    33

    Poor

    54

    50

    52

    62

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

     

    TABLE 5

    CONGRESS’ OVERALL JOB RATING – TREND

    How would you rate the overall job Congress is doing?

    Base: All adults

     

    TREND

    Positive

    Negative

    %

    %

    2011

    July

    8

    92

     

    June

    11

    89

    May 19th

    12

    88

    May 9th

    13

    87

    April

    8

    92

    March

    10

    90

    February

    14

    86

    January

    16

    84

    2010

    December

    11

    89

     

    November

    13

    87

    October

    11

    89

    September

    13

    87

    August

    15

    85

    June

    14

    86

    May

    15

    85

    April

    16

    84

    March

    10

    90

    Jan.

    16

    84

    2009

    Dec.

    17

    83

     

    Oct.

    16

    84

    Sept.

    19

    81

    Aug.

    22

    78

    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 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

    %

    %

    2011

    July

    25

    75

     

    June

    32

    68

    May

    39

    61

    April

    26

    74

    March

    28

    72

    February

    36

    64

    January

    37

    63

    2010

    December

    29

    71

     

    November

    33

    67

    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 7

    VOTING FOR PRESIDENT OBAMA

    If the election for president were to be held today, how likely would you be to vote for the current president, Barack Obama?

    Base: All adults

     

    May 9

    May 19

    June

    July

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Likely

    46

    43

    41

    42

    Very likely

    33

    32

    30

    30

    Somewhat likely

    14

    11

    11

    12

    Unlikely

    47

    49

    52

    52

    Somewhat unlikely

    7

    8

    7

    8

    Very unlikely

    40

    41

    45

    44

    Not at all sure

    6

    8

    6

    6

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

     

    TABLE 8

    VOTING FOR PRESIDENT OBAMA – BY POLITICAL PARTY

    If the election for president were to be held today, how likely would you be to vote for the current president, Barack Obama?

    Base: All adults

     

    July

    Political Party Political Philosophy

    Rep.

    Dem.

    Ind.

    Cons.

    Mod.

    Lib.

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Likely

    42

    10

    74

    36

    12

    47

    75

    Very likely

    30

    5

    59

    23

    8

    31

    60

    Somewhat likely

    12

    5

    15

    13

    4

    15

    15

    Unlikely

    52

    88

    21

    57

    84

    45

    23

    Somewhat unlikely

    8

    10

    4

    10

    7

    9

    7

    Very unlikely

    44

    78

    17

    48

    77

    36

    16

    Not at all sure

    6

    2

    5

    6

    4

    9

    2

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

     

    TABLE 9

    LIKELIHOOD OF OBAMA’S RE-ELECTION

    If you had to say now, do you think that President Obama will be re-elected, or not?

    Base: All adults

     

    Total

    Political Party

    Rep.

    Dem.

    Ind.

    %

    %

    %

    %

    I think he will be re-elected.

    35

    12

    59

    31

    I do not think he will be re-elected.

    42

    68

    19

    45

    Not at all sure.

    23

    20

    21

    24

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

     

    Methodology

    This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between July 11 to 18, 2011 among 2,183 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.

    J40488

    Q1205, 1210, 1215, 1218, 1250

    The Harris Poll® #85, July 20, 2011

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