President Obama’s Job Rating Unchanged Since Early May, but Half of Americans Unlikely to Vote to Re-Elect Him

NEW YORK , N.Y. – May 19, 2011 – While President Obama’s job ratings may not have changed much from the gain they saw after the death of Osama Bin Laden, there are some shifts the White House probably should worry about as they pertain to his re-election numbers. Currently, 45% of Americans give the President positive ratings for the overall job he is doing while 55% give him negative ratings. Earlier this month, right after the death of the terrorist leader, 46% gave President Obama positive ratings and 54% gave him negative marks.

There are two groups that give President Obama higher ratings. Among regions, 54% of Westerners give him positive marks compared to 40% of Southerners, 42% of Easterners and 44% of those in the Midwest. Almost two-thirds of those with a post graduate degree (64%) give the President positive ratings as do 49% of college graduates and half of those with some college education (50%) while just one third of those with a high school diploma or less (34%) give President Obama positive ratings.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,184 adults surveyed online between May 9 and 16, 2011 by Harris Interactive.

Congress, which did not get much of a post-Osama killing bump, also hasn’t seen their ratings changed much in the past two weeks. Earlier in the month, 13% of Americans gave them positive ratings while 88% of U.S. adults give Congress negative ratings for their overall jobs.

Also slipping downward slightly is the direction of the country. Just under two in five Americans (38%) say the country is going in the right direction, down one point from earlier this month. Slightly over three in five say the country is going off on the wrong track (62%), up one point from early May. One reason for this overall sense of dissatisfaction is still the economy. One-third of Americans (33%) say that employment/jobs are one of the two most important issues for the government to address, unchanged from January. One in three U.S. adults (29%) says the most important issue is the economy overall, up from 24% who said this in January. Rounding out the top five most important issues to be addressed is healthcare (18%), the budget deficit/national debt (17%) and gas and oil prices (12% up from 1% who said this in January).

It is this worry and concern over the economy that may be driving the numbers the White House is starting to care most about – likelihood of the American public to vote for President Obama again next November. Half of Americans (49%) say they are unlikely to vote for Barack Obama is the election for president were held today, up from 47% who said this in early May. Just over two in five Americans (43%) say they are likely to vote for him, down from 46% who said so earlier this month. Even more concerning for the re-election committee is that one in five Democrats (20%) say they are not likely to vote for the President while 7% at not at all sure.

So What?

The death of Osama Bin Laden brought the country together, but the question was always how long would that cohesion last. So far, the overall job ratings for the President are holding steady, but at this point in the election cycle President Obama and his advisors are not just thinking about the current job he has, but of extending it for another four years. Come next November, voters will be asking themselves if they are better off than they were in 2009. If the answer isn’t yes, there could be issues for the re-election chances of President Obama.

 

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

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

45

12

76

43

16

52

77

Excellent

12

4

23

10

5

12

26

Pretty good

33

9

53

33

11

40

51

NEGATIVE

55

88

24

57

84

48

23

Only fair

26

33

17

29

27

29

17

Poor

29

54

7

28

57

19

6

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

45

42

44

40

54

34

50

49

64

Excellent

12

9

8

11

21

7

14

17

17

Pretty good

33

33

36

29

34

27

36

32

47

NEGATIVE

55

58

56

60

46

66

50

51

36

Only fair

26

32

27

25

22

29

24

26

21

Poor

29

26

29

35

23

36

26

25

15

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

12

9

17

11

Excellent

2

4

 

4

Pretty good

10

5

17

8

NEGATIVE

88

91

83

89

Only fair

46

52

43

43

Poor

42

40

40

46

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding; signifies less than 1%

 

TABLE 5

CONGRESS’ OVERALL JOB RATING – TREND

How would you rate the overall job Congress is doing?

Base: All adults

 

TREND

Positive

Negative

%

%

2011

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

May 19th

38

62

 

May 9th

39

61

April

26

74

March

28

72

February

36

64

January

37

63

2010

December

29

71

 

November

33

67

September

36

64

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

 

Total

Political Party

Political Ideology

May 9

May 19

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

Cons.

Mod.

Lib.

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Likely

46

43

13

73

42

15

48

80

Very likely

33

32

7

61

28

8

35

67

Somewhat likely

14

11

6

12

14

6

13

13

Unlikely

47

49

82

20

49

79

42

13

Somewhat unlikely

7

8

9

4

11

7

11

2

Very unlikely

40

41

73

16

38

72

31

11

Not at all sure

6

8

4

7

9

6

10

7

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

 

TABLE 8

MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE

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

09

10

10

10

10

’11

’11

May

Jan

Feb

Aug

Dec

Dec

June

Oct

Aug

June

Oct

Oct

Mar

Nov

Jan

Apr

Sept

Nov

Jan

May

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Employment/jobs

5

3

4

4

7

8

8

10

3

7

5

5

21

24

31

34

37

36

33

33

The economy (non-specific)

8

9

7

5

32

34

25

28

19

14

13

64

50

34

32

27

34

33

24

29

Healthcare (not Medicare)

10

11

12

15

5

10

14

18

11

12

25

22

25

47

45

34

24

30

35

18

Budget deficit/National debt

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

3

X

X

8

6

8

12

17

Gas and oil prices

X

X

X

X

X

X

1

1

10

8

2

1

1

1

 

1

1

1

1

12

Immigration

2

1

 

1

1

1

2

2

3

20

12

3

4

5

5

7

10

8

8

10

Budget/Government spending

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

5

6

2

6

11

7

9

11

10

13

9

Education

15

14

21

25

12

11

13

7

8

7

6

6

5

5

5

6

6

6

7

7

Wars/Armed conflicts

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

6

Taxes

14

16

12

13

6

5

11

8

5

4

3

6

4

4

4

7

7

7

6

4

Terrorism

X

X

X

X

22

17

11

7

7

4

4

3

4

3

6

2

2

2

2

4

Social security

6

6

24

16

3

2

4

4

10

5

3

3

1

2

1

2

2

4

3

3

Environment

3

2

3

3

1

3

2

1

3

3

3

2

3

4

3

3

3

2

2

2

Overspending/wasting money

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

2

Medicare

4

5

5

6

1

1

4

3

2

1

3

2

 

 

 

 

 

2

1

2

(Programs for) the poor/ poverty

3

2

2

3

1

2

3

 

4

4

4

 

1

2

2

1

2

2

3

2

Energy

X

X

X

X

X

X

1

1

4

4

1

4

3

1

1

2

1

1

1

2

Downsizing government

X

X

X

1

 

X

X

1

 

1

1

 

1

2

2

3

2

2

2

1

Homeland/domestic security/public safety

X

X

X

X

8

9

3

6

2

2

2

1

2

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

Housing

X

X

X

X

X

1

1

 

 

1

2

2

6

1

1

1

2

1

2

1

Foreign policy (non-specific)

3

5

4

3

2

4

2

3

2

2

4

2

3

2

2

2

2

2

1

1

Inflation

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

1

2

3

 

1

1

 

 

 

1

1

1

Bipartisanship

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

1

1

Crime/violence

19

13

8

10

1

2

3

1

3

2

2

1

 

1

1

1

1

 

1

1

Human/civil/women’s rights

2

1

 

1

1

1

 

1

1

1

2

 

 

1

1

 

1

1

1

1

National security

X

X

2

2

6

3

6

5

2

2

2

5

2

1

4

3

2

1

1

1

Military/defense

2

2

2

4

4

1

5

3

1

4

2

2

2

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

Income gap/Wealth distribution/Middle class

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

1

1

Obama/president

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

1

 

 

1

1

1

1

1

 

1

Infrastructure

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

 

1

Welfare

14

8

4

2

1

1

3

 

3

1

2

 

 

1

 

1

1

1

1

 

Afghanistan

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

2

 

1

 

(The) war

X

X

X

X

12

18

8

35

41

27

24

14

9

9

2

6

4

4

3

 

Ethics in government

 

 

 

 

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

2

1

1

 

Homelessness

4

4

3

3

2

2

1

 

1

1

3

 

 

1

1

 

1

 

1

 

Business accountability/bailouts

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

2

1

1

 

Religion (decline of)

 

1

 

1

2

1

1

1

 

1

1

 

 

 

 

1

1

1

 

 

Same sex rights

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

1

1

2

 

 

1

1

1

1

 

1

 

 

Abortion

2

2

2

6

1

1

1

4

2

1

2

1

1

1

1

 

 

 

 

 

Programs for the elderly (not Medicare/Social Security)

1

1

1

2

1

1

3

 

 

 

1

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Judicial/Legal Issues

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

 

2

1

1

 

1

1

1

1

 

 

 

 

Iraq

 

 

1

X

X

11

3

9

6

8

14

7

2

4

2

2

 

1

 

 

Other

8

19

2

19

3

8

8

8

1

6

5

15

5

3

1

3

5

6

5

3

Not sure/refused/no issue

9

12

16

18

11

10

12

9

8

6

8

4

4

3

2

2

1

2

4

4

= 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 May 9 to 16, 2011 among 2,184 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.

J40013

Q1205, 1208, 1210, 1215, 1224

The Harris Poll ® #59, May 19, 2011

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