February 13, 2014
2/13: Many Americans Lack Confidence in Obama & Congress
McClatchy/Marist National Poll
Americans’ faith in their elected officials in Washington is in short supply. Nearly two-thirds of adults nationally report they do not have confidence in President Barack Obama to make headway on important issues facing the country this year, and more than seven in ten have this view of the Republicans in Congress. When it comes to the grade Americans give to their elected officials in Washington, nearly six in ten residents say they deserve below average marks.
POLL MUST BE SOURCED: McClatchy-Marist Poll
“Americans paint a very stark picture of their leaders in Washington,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “They’re fatigued by political infighting and see recent agreements as too little too late.”
65% of U.S. residents are not very confident — 34% — or not confident at all — 31% — that President Obama will advance the key issues facing the nation in the coming year. However, about one in three Americans — 33% — has faith in President Obama to make headway on important issues on the national agenda. Included here are 7% who are very confident and 26% who are confident. Two percent are unsure. Similar proportions of registered voters share these views.
While 62% of Democrats express confidence in the president’s ability to move the national conversation forward, 37% are not that certain. Not surprisingly, most Republicans — 91% — do not believe President Obama will be able to advance the important issues facing the country. Nearly three in four independents — 74% — agree.
When it comes to the Republicans in Congress, 71% of adults nationally do not think they will be able to advance the key issues on the national agenda. This includes 43% who are not very confident in them to do so and 28% who are not confident at all. Only 26% of Americans believe the GOP in Congress can make headway on these issues. Included here are 3% who are very confident and 23% who are confident. The views of registered voters mirror those of Americans, overall.
By party, more than three in four Democrats — 77% — and close to eight in ten independents — 79% — lack confidence in Congressional Republicans to advance the important issues facing the nation. Even six in ten Republicans — 60% — have this opinion.
Overall, Americans are dissatisfied with the performance of elected officials in Washington. 57% of adults nationally give elected officials below average grades. This includes 28% who say they deserve a “D” and 29% who report they should be given an “F.” Only 1% thinks the country’s representatives in Washington have earned an “A,” and 12% believe they should receive a “B.” 29% bestow an average grade of “C” on public officeholders in Washington.
There has been some improvement on this question. When McClatchy-Marist last reported it in December, 68% of adults thought federal officials deserved below average grades. One percent said they should receive an “A” while 7% reported “B” was sufficient. Close to one in four — 24% — thought elected officials in Washington earned a “C.”
Majority Disapproves of Obama’s Job Performance
52% of registered voters nationally disapprove of how President Obama is doing his job. 42% approve, and 5% are unsure. There has been little movement on this question since December when 53% believed the president had fallen short. 43%, at that time, approved of the president’s job performance, and 4% were unsure.
A partisan divide exists. While 80% of Democrats approve of the job Obama is doing, 88% of Republicans disapprove. Nearly six in ten independents — 58% — are dissatisfied with how the president is performing his job.
On the specifics of the president’s job performance, a majority of voters — 54% — disapproves of how he is handling the economy. 41% approve, and 5% are unsure. In McClatchy-Marist’s December survey, 58% disapproved of how Obama was dealing with the economy. 40% approved, and 2% were unsure.
Half of voters — 50% — are also displeased with how President Obama is handling foreign policy. 43% approve of the president’s approach, and 8% are unsure. These results are similar to those found in December when 51% of voters nationally disapproved of how President Obama tackled foreign policy issues. 46% approved, and 4%, then, were unsure.
When it comes to the president’s favorability, voters divide. 50% have a negative opinion of Mr. Obama while 47% have a favorable one. Three percent have either never heard of the president or are unsure how to rate him.
Perceptions of the president have improved slightly. When this question was last reported in January, 48% of voters had an unfavorable impression of him, and 41% had a favorable one. 11%, at that time, had either never heard of the president or were unsure how to rate him.
Voters Still Sour on Congressional GOP and Dems
Members of Congress are also feeling the heat from voters. More than seven in ten voters — 72% — disapprove of the job the Republicans in Congress are doing, including a majority of Republicans. 22% of registered voters approve, and 6% are unsure. Congressional Republicans have not been able to reverse public opinion. In December, 74% of voters gave them low marks. 22% thought they were doing a good job, and 4% were unsure.
Impressions of the Republican Party, overall, are far from stellar. More than six in ten voters nationally — 62% — have an unfavorable view of the GOP. 32% think well of the party, and 6% have either never heard of it or are unsure how to rate it.
Independents are key. 65% of independent voters have a negative view of the Republican Party, and even 29% of Republicans have this view. Not surprisingly, more than eight in ten Democrats — 84% — have an unfavorable opinion of the GOP.
Congressional Democrats don’t fare much better. Six in ten voters — 60% — disapprove of the job they are doing. About one-third — 33% — approves, and 7% are unsure. There has been little change since December when 64% of the national electorate believed the Democrats in Congress fell short. 33% thought they were doing well in their post, and 3%, then, were unsure.
When it comes to what voters think of the Democratic Party, 53% have an unfavorable impression of it. 43% have a favorable view of the party, and 4% have either never heard of it or are unsure how to rate it.
Again, independent voters play a pivotal role. 56% of independents have a negative opinion of the Democratic Party. 91% of Republicans share this view. However, more than eight in ten Democrats — 82% — have a positive impression of their political party.
The Battle for Congressional Control: Voters Divide
Looking to this year’s mid-term elections, 46% of voters say they would support the Democratic candidate. 44% would back the Republican while 4% would vote for another candidate. Five percent are undecided.
These results reflect those found in December’s survey. At that time, 43% of voters said they would support the Democrat for Congress while 43% said they were for the Republican. Six percent would vote for someone else, and 8% were undecided.
The parties are polarized with 88% of Democrats saying they would support the Democratic candidate and 96% of Republicans reporting they would back the Republican candidate. Among independents, they divide. 43% would support the Democrat while 40% would back the Republican for Congress in their district.
Nearly Two-Thirds of Americans Believe Nation is on the Wrong Track
64% of adults nationally believe the country is on the wrong track. 33% say it is on the right one, and 3% are unsure. When this question was last reported earlier this month, 63% of Americans believed the country was moving in the wrong direction while 30% thought it was traveling in the right one. Eight percent, then, were unsure.