12/8: Obama’s Hope to Unite Falls Short

Registered voters nationally are divided about President Barack Obama’s job approval rating.  46% approve of his job performance while 44% disapprove.  One in ten voters is unsure.

Barack Obama


This is the first time the president has lost majority support on this question since taking office.  When Marist last asked this question in October, 53% of voters gave the president high marks.

Click Here for Complete December 8, 2009 USA Poll Release and Tables

Partisanship is alive and well here, but Mr. Obama has slipped slightly among voters in both parties.  77% of Democrats approve of the president’s job performance compared with 12% of Republicans.  Two months ago, 84% of Democrats and 21% of Republicans gave him a thumbs-up.  Independents remain divided, 41% approve while 44% disapprove.

“As 2009 comes to a close, President Obama’s goal of unifying the nation and reducing the partisan divide is coming up short,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Poll.

Table: Obama Approval Rating

Great Expectations…More Than Four In Ten Say Obama Is Missing the Mark

The national electorate also divides about whether the president is meeting their expectations.  44% say Obama has while 42% report he has fallen short.  Just 9% believe the president has exceeded their expectations.  5% are unsure.

Looking at party, a majority of Democrats — 58% — say the president has met their expectations.  However, a notable proportion within Obama’s own party — 20% — reports he has missed the mark.  17% think he has gone above and beyond.  On the Republican side, 67% believe Obama has fallen short while 26% report he has met their expectations.  2% think he’s exceeded their expectations.  Independent voters closely reflect the overall electorate.

Table: Obama Meeting Expectations?

Obama on Course?

More than four in ten registered voters — 44% — think President Obama is changing the country for the better while 35% say he is making the nation worse.  18% believe he has made no impact on the country at all.  Little has changed on this issue since Marist last asked this question in October.

Table: Direction President is Moving the Country

A Fork in the Road…Americans Divide Over Direction of Country

When it comes to the overall direction of the nation, there is a split decision.  46% of residents say the nation is moving in the wrong direction while 46% say it’s headed on the right path.  This is relatively unchanged from two months ago when similar proportions of residents viewed the trajectory of the nation in this regard.

Table: Right Direction or Wrong Direction of the Country

But, Voters Still Like Obama

Although President Obama’s approval rating has slipped, and he has lost some ground with voters on the handling of the economy, the electorate still views the president favorably.  A majority of voters — 55% — have a positive impression of Mr. Obama compared with 41% who have an unfavorable view of him.  4% are unsure how to rate him.

Not surprisingly, there is a partisan divide on this question.  Most Democrats — 85% — have a favorable impression of the president while 75% of Republicans view him unfavorably.  Nearly half of Independent voters — 49% — think well of the president.

Table: Obama Favorability

Marist Poll Methodology

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