6/30: Turning Tides … Half View Obama as Not Meeting Expectations

For the first time since taking office, more registered voters in the United States think President Barack Obama is falling below their expectations than those who say he is either meeting or exceeding them.  Half of voters — 50% — believe Mr. Obama has fallen short.  44%, on the other hand, report Mr. Obama has met or exceeded their expectations.  6% are unsure.



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Public opinion has turned on this question.  In March, a slim majority — 51% — said the president either reached their level of expectation or went above and beyond it.  45%, however, reported he missed the mark.  4% were unsure.

“As President Obama enters a critical time in his presidency, the national electorate has greater doubt over whether he is living up to their expectations of him,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.

While there has been little change among Democrats and Republicans here, dissatisfaction has grown among independent voters.  Nearly six in ten — 58% — report the president has disappointed them, and 34% view the president as meeting their expectations or going above and beyond them.  8% are unsure.

In Marist’s March survey, 48% within this key voting block thought the president was not living up to their standards while 45% reported he either met or surpassed them.

Table: Obama Meeting Expectations
Table: Obama Meeting Expectations Over Time

Trend graph: Obama meeting expectations over time

Click on the graph to enlarge the image.

Mr. Obama can’t even look to his approval rating for a silver lining.  Voters divide about the job the president is doing in office.  Currently, 45% of registered voters nationwide disapprove of the president’s job performance while 44% approve.  11% are unsure.  Mr. Obama’s approval rating equals his lowest rating — 44% — which he received in Marist’s February survey.

The president continues to have a tough time winning over independent voters.  In fact, there is a 12 percentage point spread between independents who disapprove and those who approve of the job Mr. Obama is doing in office.  Nearly half — 49% — disapprove of the president’s performance while 37% approve.  15% are unsure how to rate him.  Three months ago, just 6 percentage points separated independents who praised and those who berated the president’s job performance.  45% disapproved, and 39% approved.  16% were unsure.

Looking at Democrats across the country, there has been little change.  75% applaud the president while 14% disapprove.  11% are unsure.  In March, 77% of Democrats gave Mr. Obama high marks while 15% thought he was falling short.  8%, at that time, were unsure how to rate him.

Fewer members of the GOP, compared with Marist’s March survey, disapprove of President Obama’s job performance.  78% now hold this view while 85% did so three months ago.  However, the proportion of those who approve of the job Mr. Obama is doing is relatively unchanged.  14% of the national GOP currently give the president high marks while 11% did the same three months ago.  More Republicans are unsure how to rate the president.  8% cannot currently weigh in compared with 4% in March.

Table: Obama Approval Rating
Table: Obama Approval Rating Over Time

Graph showing change in Obama's approval rating over time.

Fewer View Obama as Improving the Nation … More Say Towing the Status Quo

To make matters worse for the president, fewer voters view him as changing the United States for the better.  Currently, 38% describe the direction in which the president is moving the country as an improvement.  This approximates the lowest rating the president has received on this question — 37% — which was reached in February.  In Marist’s March survey, 43% thought the president was changing the nation for the better.

However, the proportion of those who believe Mr. Obama is negatively impacting the nation has not grown.  In fact, it has remained relatively flat.  38% report the president is changing the nation for the worse while 41% thought that way in March.  Rather, more voters now say the president has not changed the country at all.  More than one in five — 21% — believe this is true while 13% held this view in March.

Once again, independents make the difference.  More than a quarter of these voters — 27% — believe Mr. Obama is doing the same ole political song and dance.  This is a 12 percentage point increase from March when 15% thought the president was not bringing about change.  39% currently believe the president is changing the country for the worse, and 29% report he is changing the nation for the better.  5% are unsure.  In March, 44% said the president was having a negative impact on the country, 35% thought he was making positive inroads, and 6% were unsure.

Table: Direction President is Moving the Country
Table: Direction President is Moving the Country Over Time

Graph of change in percentage of Americans who think Obama is moving the country in right direction.

Obama’s Favorability Hovers at 50%

President Obama still remains likeable in the eyes of voters, but there may be a crack in his armor.  50% view the president favorably while 43% have an unfavorable impression of him.  7% are unsure.

In Marist’s March survey, a majority — 53% — thought well of him, 41% had less than a positive impression of him, and 6% were unsure.

Independents are the cause of the president’s slight dip in favorability.  They divide with 45% having a positive view of the president and 47% having a negative view of him.  In March, there was a more positive opinion among these voters — 49% to 43%, respectively.

Although nearly three-quarters of Republican voters — 73% — have an unfavorable view of Mr. Obama, 20% have a favorable view of him.  That’s a six percentage point increase in his favorability among the GOP since Marist’s March survey.

80% of Democrats have a high opinion of the president compared with 85% in March.

Table: Obama Favorability
Table: Obama Favorability Over Time

Graph of change in Obama's favorability rating over time.

Split Decision in Handling of the Economy

The national electorate is fractured when it comes to President Obama’s handling of the economy.  46% of the electorate approve of how the president is addressing the issue while 48% disapprove.  6% are unsure.

Similar proportions of voters shared this view in March. At that time, 46% approved of Mr. Obama’s economic management, 49% disapproved, and 5% were unsure.

And, voters still don’t blame the president for the state of the economy.  More than six in ten voters — 62% — think the president inherited the current economic conditions while 28% believe they are a result of his own policies.  10% are unsure.

In March, 64% thought the economic conditions were passed on to the president, 27% said they were Mr. Obama’s doing, and 9% were unsure.

Table: Handling the Economy
Table: Handling the Economy Over Time

Graph of Americans' opinions of Obama's handling of economy.

Table: Current Economic Conditions Inherited

Table: Current Economic Conditions Inherited Over Time

Graph of percentage of Americans who think Obama inherited economic conditions.

Marist Poll Methodology

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