Four in Ten Americans Give President Obama Positive Ratings; One in Ten Say the Same of Congress

Millennials feel more favorable toward the President than their elders

05:00 AM EDT Aug 25, 2015 Rating
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Four in Ten Americans Give President Obama Positive Ratings; One in Ten Say the Same of Congress

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Positive ratings of President Obama’s overall job performance hit the four in ten mark this month (40%), not far from last month’s 39% and just shy of his recent peak of 41%, seen in May. This figure is up considerably, however, in comparison to where it sat in August of 2014 (32%).

Forty percent (40%) of Americans also rate President Obama positively on the job he’s doing handling the economy; this continues an incremental rise over the past few months (vs. 36% in June and 38% in July) and puts this rating at its highest level since February (when it was also 40%). Moreover, it’s a full ten points ahead of where it was a year ago (30% in August 2014).

On both these measures, strong majorities of Democrats approve of his performance (70% overall, 69% for his performance on the economy) while two-thirds of Independents (66% for each measure) and more than nine in ten Republicans (94% overall, 91% economy) disapprove of the work he’s doing.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll® of 2,212 adults surveyed online between August 12 and 17, 2015.

Millennials are split on their sentiments toward the President overall, with roughly half each rating him positively and negatively. They’re definitely bigger fans than other generations, though – more likely than any of their elders to give him positive ratings (49%, vs. 36% Gen X, 37% Baby Boomers and 30% Matures) and less likely to rate him negatively (51%, vs. 64%, 63% and 70%).

Nine in ten Americans give Congress negative ratings 

One in ten Americans rate Congress positively on the overall job they’re doing (in line with last month’s 11% but up marginally from 8% last August). The other nine in ten (90%) give them negative ratings, with 54% calling out their performance specifically as poor.

Two in ten Americans (20%) rate their member of the House of Representatives positively, on par with last month’s 21%.

Direction of the country

Just over a third of Americans (34%) believe things in the country are headed in the right direction, while 66% believe they’ve 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

August

40

60

 

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

Generation

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

Cons.

Mod.

Lib.

Millennials (18-35)

Gen X (36-50)

Baby Boomers (51-69)

Matures (70+)

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

POSITIVE

40

6

70

34

11

40

74

49

36

37

30

    Excellent

10

1

22

5

5

8

22

13

9

10

9

    Pretty good

29

5

48

29

6

32

52

36

27

28

21

NEGATIVE

60

94

30

66

89

60

26

51

64

63

70

    Only fair

26

26

21

27

22

31

21

26

31

24

19

    Poor

34

38

8

39

67

29

6

26

33

38

50

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

Aug

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

POSITIVE (NET)

28

31

31

32

35

32

30

30

29

33

35

34

39

42

40

38

38

39

36

38

40

      Excellent

5

4

5

5

5

7

7

6

6

5

8

9

10

10

9

10

10

10

8

6

8

      Pretty good

23

27

26

27

29

25

23

25

24

27

26

25

29

32

31

28

27

29

28

31

32

NEGATIVE (NET)

72

69

69

68

65

68

70

70

71

67

65

66

61

58

60

62

62

61

64

62

60

      Only fair

30

29

27

29

26

28

27

31

31

29

29

30

26

27

28

28

28

25

28

27

24

      Poor

42

40

42

39

39

40

43

39

40

38

36

36

34

31

32

34

35

35

35

36

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

Generation

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

Cons.

Mod.

Lib.

Millennials (18-35)

Gen X (36-50)

Baby Boomers (51-69)

Matures (70+)

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

POSITIVE

40

9

69

34

13

41

72

47

37

38

32

    Excellent

8

*

18

3

4

6

18

9

8

7

9

    Pretty good

32

8

51

31

9

35

54

38

30

31

24

NEGATIVE

60

91

31

66

87

59

28

53

63

62

68

    Only fair

24

25

19

26

22

28

19

26

29

21

15

    Poor

36

67

11

40

65

32

9

27

34

41

53

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

August

10

90

 

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

Generation

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

Cons.

Mod.

Lib.

Millennials (18-35)

Gen X (36-50)

Baby Boomers (51-69)

Matures (70+)

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

POSITIVE

10

4

12

10

8

12

9

17

10

5

2

    Excellent

2

1

3

3

4

2

1

6

1

*

--

    Pretty good

7

3

9

7

4

10

8

11

10

5

2

NEGATIVE

90

96

88

90

92

88

91

83

90

95

98

    Only fair

36

41

36

32

37

36

36

42

38

31

33

    Poor

54

55

51

58

56

52

55

41

51

64

65

                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

Aug 2015

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

POSITIVE

19

20

20

21

22

18

23

22

24

22

24

21

20

    Excellent

3

4

4

4

4

3

4

4

3

4

3

3

3

    Pretty good

15

17

17

17

18

15

19

19

21

18

21

18

16

NEGATIVE

71

69

68

68

65

70

65

66

63

66

63

63

65

    Only fair

31

31

34

34

32

36

35

36

38

37

34

36

38

    Poor

39

38

34

34

32

34

30

30

25

28

28

27

27

Not familiar enough to rate

11

11

12

11

13

12

12

12

13

13

13

16

15

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

Generation

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

Cons.

Mod.

Lib.

Millennials (18-35)

Gen X (36-50)

Baby Boomers (51-69)

Matures (70+)

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

POSITIVE

20

22

22

17

19

20

19

24

15

18

24

    Excellent

3

3

4

3

5

3

2

6

1

2

4

    Pretty good

16

19

18

13

14

18

17

17

14

16

20

NEGATIVE

65

68

62

70

71

64

61

52

72

73

69

    Only fair

38

41

39

38

43

35

39

35

41

39

40

    Poor

27

27

23

32

28

29

22

17

31

33

29

Not familiar enough to rate

15

10

16

13

10

15

20

24

14

9

7

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

August

34

66

 

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

Generation

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

Cons.

Mod.

Lib.

Millennials (18-35)

Gen X (36-50)

Baby Boomers (51-69)

Matures (70+)

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Right direction

34

13

53

31

13

35

57

40

36

30

25

Wrong track

66

87

47

69

87

65

43

60

64

70

75

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 August 12 and 17, 2015 among 2,212 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® #51, August 25, 2015

By Larry Shannon-Missal, Managing Editor, 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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