Over Half of Americans Give President Obama’s Job Performance Positive Ratings

ROCHESTER, N.Y.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–As President Barack Obama moves past his first 50 days in office, over half of Americans (55%) give him positive ratings for the overall job that he is doing, with 17% saying he is doing an excellent job and almost two in five (38%) saying he is doing a pretty good job. Just over two in five Americans (45%) give President Obama negative ratings with over one-quarter (27%) saying he is doing an only fair job and 18% saying he is doing a poor job.

Additionally, these are some of the findings of The Harris Poll®, a new nationwide survey of 2,355 U.S. adults surveyed online between March 9 and 16, 2009 by Harris Interactive®:

  • While Democrats give President Obama high marks for the first few weeks (87% positive), not surprisingly only 18% of Republicans do the same. Independents are more equally divided as 51% give the President positive marks and 49% give him negative ratings;
  • Nine in ten African Americans (90%) give the President positive ratings as do just under two-thirds of Hispanics (63%), but just over half (52%) of Whites give him negative ratings on the job he is doing;
  • People in the Midwest and South are split – with half giving President Obama positive ratings and half giving him negative ratings. Two-thirds of Easterners (66%) and over half of Westerners (56%) give him positive ratings;
  • Younger Americans supported Barack Obama all throughout the campaign and this support is holding strong. Over three in five (62%) Echo Boomers (those aged 18-32) give the President positive ratings compared to 53% of both Gen Xers (aged 33-44) and Baby Boomers (aged 45-63). Over half (52%) of Matures (aged 64 and older) give President Obama negative ratings;
  • While two-thirds of Americans (68%) still think that this country is moving off on the wrong track, one-third (32%) believe that things are heading in the right direction. Before the inauguration, 19% of Americans believed things were going in the right direction while 72% said they were going off on the wrong track. In the past, this question was asked by telephone where people were allowed to volunteer a not sure response. Now it is being asked online and that option is not available – what is interesting to note is that most of those who were not sure or declined to answer in January moved to the positive side which partly explains the rise in that number but why the wrong track number has only moved slightly;
  • The reason for things in the country moving off on the wrong track is clear and this is one of the more pressing things for the Obama Administration. Half of Americans (50%) think the economy is one of the two most important issues for the government to address. Also, one in five adults (21%) say employment and jobs are one of the most important issues, while 6% say the budget and government spending and 8% say it is regulating the banking and the financial services industry; and,
  • Health care continues to be a concern to Americans as 25% cite it as a most important issue while 9% say the war is a most important issue to address.

So What?

As the drumbeat of bad economic news continues and as Americans cite the economy as the most important issue, they are still giving President Obama positive marks for the job he has been doing these first 60 or so days in office. But, two-thirds of Americans also still think the country is going off on the wrong track and the honeymoon the President has will not continue indefinitely. As the countdown for the first 100 days continues, people will be looking for things to make them feel better and more economically secure. If they don’t find it, and if the mood of the country does not improve, the President Obama’s honeymoon may be short lived.


This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States March 9 and 16, 2009 among 2,355 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. Full data tables and methodology are available at www.harrisinteractive.com.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

QA1, QA2, QA4

About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is a global leader in custom market research. With a long and rich history in multimodal research, powered by our science and technology, we assist clients in achieving business results. Harris Interactive serves clients globally through our North American, European and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.

Harris Interactive Inc. 03/09