2/8: Obama Approval Rating Below 50%

Fewer registered voters nationwide — 44% — currently approve of President Barack Obama’s job performance than disapprove — 47%.  When Marist last asked about the president’s approval rating in December, 46% thought well of Obama’s job performance while 44% gave him low marks.

Barack Obama


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Perhaps, particularly concerning for Mr. Obama is the drop in support among Independents.  For the first time since taking office, a majority of Independents — 57% — disapproves of how he is doing in the role.  29% approve, and 14% are unsure.

Not surprisingly, Democrats and Republicans are polarized.  81% of Democrats approve of the president’s job performance while a similar proportion of Republicans — 80% — disapproves.

“If attracting Independents and bipartisanship are the aim, then the president clearly has a lot of ground to cover in year two,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist Institute for Public Opinion.

Table: Obama Approval Rating

Disappointer in Chief?

47% of registered voters nationwide report President Obama has fallen below their expectations.  42% say he has met their expectations while just 7% think he has exceeded them.  Slightly more members of the electorate currently think the president has let them down compared with Marist’s December survey.  At that time, 42% thought Mr. Obama missed the mark while 44% said he met their expectations.  9% reported Obama surpassed their expectations.

Majorities within both parties walk the partisan line here.  57% of Democrats report the president has met their expectations while 65% of Republicans see him as falling short.  While these proportions are little changed from December, Independents’ impressions of the president have slipped.  53% of Independents report Mr. Obama has not risen to the occasion.  This compares with 43% who thought he had fallen below their expectations in Marist’s December survey.

Table: Obama Meeting Expectations?

On the Promise of Change …

President Obama campaigned on the promise of change, but is the change he has created an improvement?  American voters now divide.  38% think the direction in which Mr. Obama is moving the country is for the worse, and 37% believe he is changing the nation for the better.  22% say there has been no change at all, and 3% are unsure.

In Marist’s last survey, a plurality of the electorate — 44% — thought Obama was changing the country for the better.  35% disagreed and thought he was making things worse.  18% said the president had not brought about any change, and 3% were unsure.

Impressions have shifted across party lines.  Democrats have become less positive and Independents have become more negative.  Looking at Democrats, 69% report the president is improving the nation compared with 76% who thought so two months ago.

Independents who were previously divided have soured toward Mr. Obama.  45% today report the president is changing the country for the worse while 26% think the opposite is true.  In Marist’s previous survey, 36% saw him as making a positive impact on the nation, and the same proportion — 36% — believed he was negatively altering the country.  63% of Republicans view the change Mr. Obama is making as negative.

Table: Direction President is Moving the Country

Obama Still Favorable, BUT…

50% of voters nationwide have a favorable impression of President Obama while 44% have an unfavorable view of him.  6% are unsure.  Although Mr. Obama’s favorability rating is still positive, it has dropped since Marist’s December survey.  Then, 55% thought well of the president, and 41% did not.  4% were unsure.

The president’s favorability rating has moved little among Democrats and Republicans, but it has slipped among Independents.  In fact, a majority — 52% — have an unfavorable view of Mr. Obama compared with 43% two months ago.

Table: Obama Favorability

The Good News?  Economic Conditions Still Viewed as “Inherited”

62% of registered voters still believe today’s current economic conditions are mostly inherited from the Bush Administration while 29% say they are a result of Obama’s own policies.  9% are unsure.  These proportions are relatively unchanged since Marist’s last survey.

“With this part of voters’ mindset, it’s no wonder the White House would like to make 2010 a choice between President Obama and past GOP policies,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist Institute for Public Opinion.  “Not a referendum on the president.”

Table: Current Economic Conditions Inherited

And, In a VERY Hypothetical Matchup …

Looking at a three-way 2012 presidential contest between President Obama, former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin, and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Obama receives 44% of the vote, Republican Palin garners 29%, and Independent Bloomberg nets 15%.

A Bloomberg candidacy helps Mr. Obama’s cause.  Although Palin receives majority support — 57% — from the GOP, Bloomberg snatches 20% of the vote within the party.  Among Democrats, Bloomberg only receives 4%.  Democrats are firmly behind Obama with 84% tossing their support to him.  Looking at Independents, 31% back Obama, and 27% support Palin.  24% report they would cast their ballot for Bloomberg.

Table: Hypothetical 2012 Presidential Matchup: Obama/Palin/Bloomberg

Marist Poll Methodology

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