Obama’s Ratings Slip A Little as Those Who Think Country Is on the Wrong Track Increase by 8 Points

    NEW YORK , N.Y. – March 18, 2011 – The latest Harris Poll finds that President Obama’s positive job rating has slipped for the second month running. In January he recorded his best rating (44%) since 2009, but it edged downwards to 42% in February and 39% now. The public’s rating of Congress has also slumped, with fully 90% of all adults now giving it a negative rating, compared to 86% in February and 84% in January.

    Another indication of the public’s sour mood is that those who think the country is on the wrong track have increased by 8 points from 64% in February to 72% now.

    These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,379 adults surveyed online between March 7 and 14, 2011 by Harris Interactive.

    Trends in approval

    The president’s current job rating (39% positive) is only slightly better than the lowest ratings of his presidency which occurred during the last three months of last year, at 37%, 38% and 36%. His rating is still strongly correlated with education, with only 29% of people who never went to college giving him positive marks compared to 54% of people with post graduate education and 47% of those with a college degree.

    The ratings of Congress have, in recent years, only once been as bad as they are now. In March 2010 Congress also had a negative 90% job rating.

    The last time that the proportion of the public who think the country is on the wrong track was higher than it is now was in 2008, before President Obama was elected and the country was reeling from the crisis on Wall Street.

    So What?

    While some Republicans, with their eyes on the 2012 elections, may be pleased to see the President’s rating slip, there are no winners in this poll. Rather, the poll underlines the poor opinions that most people have of Washington and especially of Congress, where the Republicans are in control of the House. This is not totally a partisan divide, but rather where all Americans have negative views.

     

    TABLE 1

    PRESIDENT OBAMA’S JOB RATING – TREND

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

    Base: All adults

     

    2009

    Mar

    April

    May

    June

    Aug

    Sept

    Oct

    Nov

    Dec

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    POSITIVE

    55

    58

    59

    54

    51

    49

    45

    43

    41

    Excellent

    17

    18

    17

    14

    11

    11

    10

    9

    7

    Pretty good

    38

    40

    42

    39

    39

    38

    35

    33

    33

    NEGATIVE

    45

    42

    41

    46

    49

    51

    55

    57

    59

    Only fair

    27

    26

    25

    25

    25

    25

    27

    29

    30

    Poor

    18

    15

    16

    21

    24

    26

    28

    29

    30

     

    2010

    2011

    Jan

    Mar

    April

    May

    June

    Aug

    Sept

    Oct

    Nov

    Dec

    Jan

    Feb

    March

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    POSITIVE

    40

    41

    41

    42

    39

    40

    38

    37

    38

    36

    44

    42

    39

    Excellent

    9

    9

    9

    10

    6

    9

    9

    8

    8

    7

    10

    11

    8

    Pretty good

    31

    32

    31

    32

    33

    31

    29

    29

    30

    28

    34

    32

    31

    NEGATIVE

    60

    59

    59

    58

    61

    60

    62

    63

    62

    64

    56

    58

    61

    Only fair

    30

    28

    26

    28

    29

    26

    28

    30

    29

    31

    28

    29

    29

    Poor

    30

    31

    33

    30

    32

    34

    34

    33

    33

    34

    29

    29

    32

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

     

    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 Philosophy

    Rep.

    Dem.

    Ind.

    Cons.

    Mod.

    Lib.

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    POSITIVE

    39

    11

    69

    33

    12

    43

    72

    Excellent

    8

    1

    16

    5

    2

    7

    18

    Pretty good

    31

    10

    53

    28

    10

    36

    53

    NEGATIVE

    61

    89

    31

    67

    88

    57

    28

    Only fair

    29

    29

    24

    33

    25

    34

    21

    Poor

    32

    60

    7

    34

    62

    23

    7

    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

    Gender

    East

    Midwest

    South

    West

    H.S. or less

    Some college

    College grad

    Post grad

    Men

    Women

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    POSITIVE

    39

    45

    36

    34

    41

    29

    42

    47

    54

    36

    41

    Excellent

    8

    6

    5

    11

    7

    5

    10

    6

    14

    7

    8

    Pretty good

    31

    39

    31

    23

    34

    23

    32

    41

    40

    28

    33

    NEGATIVE

    61

    55

    64

    66

    59

    71

    58

    53

    46

    64

    59

    Only fair

    29

    30

    29

    27

    30

    33

    29

    23

    26

    30

    28

    Poor

    32

    25

    34

    38

    29

    38

    29

    30

    21

    35

    30

    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

    10

    9

    14

    5

    Excellent

    1

    1

    1

     

    Pretty good

    9

    8

    13

    5

    NEGATIVE

    90

    91

    86

    95

    Only fair

    45

    45

    51

    38

    Poor

    45

    46

    35

    57

    Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding; indicates less than .05%

     

    TABLE 5

    CONGRESS’ OVERALL JOB RATING – TREND

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

    Base: All adults

     

    TREND

    Positive

    Negative

    %

    %

    2011

    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.

    Note: Prior to March, 2009, this question was asked by telephone.

     

    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

    March

    28

    72

    February

    36

    64

    January

    37

    63

    2010

    December

    29

    71

     

    November

    33

    67

    October

    34

    66

    September

    36

    64

    April

    39

    61

    March

    33

    67

    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

     

    Methodology

    This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between March 7 to 14, 2011 among 2,379 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.

    J39773

    Q1205, 1210, 1215

    The Harris Poll® #37, March 18, 2011

    By Humphrey Taylor, Chairman, The Harris Poll