Obama’s Approval Ratings Highest on Record since First Year in Office

Democrats, Millennials, and Parents are among those most likely to rate the 44th President positively

08:30 AM EST Jan 20, 2017 Rating
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Obama’s Approval Ratings Highest on Record since First Year in Office

NEW YORK, N.Y. – As President Obama prepares to pass the torch to President-elect Trump today, The Harris Poll takes a final look at America’s feelings towards his time in office. For the first time since August 2009, just over half of Americans rate President Barack Obama positively. As his two-term Presidency comes to a close, 51% of adults say the President is doing an excellent or pretty good job overall. While Obama’s positive ratings have been steadily climbing since March of 2016, this new rating is significantly higher than the 44% who felt positively in September/October of 2016, the last time this question was asked.

When Obama first entered office, ratings were quite high, with a majority of Americans saying he was doing an excellent or pretty good job between March and June of 2009. The highest rating on record came in May of that same year when nearly 6 in 10 Americans believed he was doing a good job (59%) and, until today, August of 2009 was the last showing of a positive tilt at 51%.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll® of 2,192 U.S. adults ages 18+ surveyed online between January 9 and 11, 2017.

Positive thinkers

While the masses agree President Obama is doing at least a pretty good job overall, some groups are more positively leaning than others. Those most likely to rate the President positively are:

 

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**

%

%

2017

January

51

49

2016

September/October

44

56

 

July

43

57

 

March

42

58

 

February

41

59

 

January

45

55

2015

December

37

63

 

November

41

59

October

41

59

September

41

59

August

40

60

July

39

61

June

38

62

May

41

59

April

38

62

March

37

63

February

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.

Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between January 9 and 11, 2017 among 2,192 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® #3, January 20, 2017

By Allyssa Birth, Senior Research Analyst, The Harris Poll

About The Harris Poll®

Begun in 1963, The Harris Poll is one of the longest running surveys measuring public opinion in the U.S. and is highly regarded throughout the world. The nationally representative polls, conducted primarily online, measure the knowledge, opinions, behaviors and motivations of the general public. New and trended polls on a wide variety of subjects including politics, the economy, healthcare, foreign affairs, science and technology, sports and entertainment, and lifestyles are published weekly. 

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