11/17: Voters Divide over Obama’s Job Performance…Concerned about Handling of Foreign Policy

Although registered voters nationally divide about how President Barack Obama is doing his job, the president’s approval rating, 48%, has steadily inched up over the last several months and is at its highest point since April 2013.  At that time, 50% rated Obama highly.  The president is well-liked by 50% of voters nationally, up slightly from 47% in August.  This is President Obama’s highest favorable score since April 2013 when 53% thought well of him.

The White House

On his handling of the economy, President Obama’s rating is upside down, 47% to 50%.  When it comes to whether or not voters think Mr. Obama inherited the nation’s current economic conditions, half of voters, 50%, still think the economy is something his predecessor handed over to Mr. Obama.  However, the proportion of the electorate who thinks the current economic conditions are a result of the president’s own policies, 45%, is the highest since McClatchy-Marist began reporting this question in April 2009.

Looking at the other areas of the president’s job performance, voters nationally also divide, 49% to 47%, about Mr. Obama’s handling of race relations in the United States.  However, the president’s scores are in negative territory when it comes to his dealing with foreign policy and his handling of ISIS.  Nearly six in ten voters, 57% disapprove of how Mr. Obama is dealing with foreign policy issues, and 58% disapprove of how he is handling the terrorist group ISIS.

Interestingly, independent voters express greater dissatisfaction with President Obama’s job performance than in the past.  Among independents, 51% currently disapprove of how Mr. Obama is doing his job, overall.  In August, independents divided, 45% who disapproved to 44% who approved.  Majorities of independents also express disapproval with how the president is handling foreign policy, 64%, his dealing with ISIS, 59%, and his handling of the economy, 55%.

Although the job approval ratings of congressional Democrats, 38% up from 28%, and congressional Republicans, 23% slightly up from 19%, are still low, there has been an improvement in voters’ perceptions.

Americans remain cautiously optimistic about their family’s finances.  52% expect their personal finances to stay about the same in the coming year.  33% think their money matters will get better while 15% say they will get worse.  However, a notable proportion of residents, 59%, report they worry, at least sometimes, that their family’s income will not be able to meet their expenses.

What does all this mean for the direction of the nation?  Americans remain pessimistic.  59% of residents, little changed from 60% in August, believe the United States is moving in the wrong direction.

Complete November 17, 2015 McClatchy-Marist Poll of the United States

Poll points:

  • 48% of registered voters nationally approve of the job President Barack Obama is doing in office, and 48% disapprove.  In August, voters also divided, 47% to 47%.
  • While Democrats, 85%, rate Mr. Obama highly, Republicans, 89%, disapprove of the president’s job performance.  Among independents, President Obama’s approval rating is upside down, 45% to 51%.  Independents previously divided, 44% who approved to 45% who disapproved.
  • Half of voters, 50%, have a favorable opinion of President Obama, and 47% have an unfavorable view of him.  In August, 47% thought well of Mr. Obama, and 48% expressed an unfavorable attitude toward the president.
  • 47% of voters approve of President Obama’s handling of the economy, the highest score he has received on this issue since October 2009 when 48% agreed with his approach.  50% currently disapprove.
  • 51% of adults, including 50% of registered voters, say the nation’s economic conditions are something President Obama inherited from President George W. Bush.  43% of residents, including 45% of voters, think they are a result of his own policies.
  • 49% of voters approve of how President Obama is handling race relations.  47% disapprove.
  • A racial divide exists.  55% of non-white voters approve of how the president is taking on race relations while 51% of white voters disapprove.
  • 38% of voters approve of President Obama’s handling of foreign policy, and 57% disapprove.  These proportions are little changed from 39% and 54%, respectively, in August.
  • While 72% of Democrats approve of the president’s approach toward foreign policy, 91% of Republicans disapprove.  64% of independents, an increase from 51%, disapprove.
  • 34% of voters approve of how President Obama is handling ISIS, but a majority, 58%, disapproves.  In August, 54% of voters disapproved of how the president was dealing with ISIS.
  • 63% of Americans, a slight increase from 59%, support sending U.S. ground forces to combat ISIS.  This includes 25% who think a large number of ground forces should be deployed and 38% who think at least a limited number should be.  Fewer than three in ten adults nationally, 29%, oppose sending any ground troops.

Congressional Democrats and Republicans No Longer Rock Bottom

  • 38% of voters approve of how the Democrats in Congress are doing their job.  This is up from 28% in August.  Still, a majority of voters, 55%, disapprove of how they are doing their job.
  • 23% of voters approve of how the Republicans in Congress are performing.  In August, 19% had this view.  Seven in ten, 70%, are dissatisfied with how the Republicans are doing their job.

Majority Says Personal Finances Status Quo, but Many Still Worry about Making Ends Meet

  • 52% of adults think their family finances will remain the same in the coming year.  33% think they will get better, and 15% believe they will get worse.  This is little changed from when McClatchy-Marist last asked this question.
  • 59% of Americans worry that their family income will not be enough to meet their family’s expenses and bills.  This includes about one in four adults, 24%, who reports they always worry they will not be able to meet their family’s needs and 35% who sometimes have this view.  In October 2011, 64% expressed concern about making ends meet.  21% now say they seldom have this concern, and 20% never have this worry.

Americans Remain Pessimistic about the Direction of the Country

  • Nearly six in ten residents nationally, 59%, think the nation is moving in the wrong direction while 36% believe it is moving in the right one.  Six percent are unsure.  In August, 60% said the country was off track, and 34% reported it was on the right course.

Marist Poll Methodology

Nature of the Sample and Complete Tables