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Before State of the Union, President Obama Again at Low Point for Job Ratings

Half of Americans give the job Vice President Biden is doing negative ratings

NEW YORK, Jan. 27, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- This week, President Obama lays out his plan for the upcoming year, providing the issues he believes are important and the programs to help Americans in the annual State of the Union. He also needs to state how the country is going and just three in ten Americans (31%) say things in the country are going in the right direction, while 69% say things are going off on the wrong track. This is down from last month when 33% said things were going in the right direction and 67% believed things were going off on the wrong track.


As the President addresses the country, one thing that may hamper his ability to pass legislation is that he does not have strong job approval ratings. This month just under one-third of Americans (32%) give him positive ratings for the job he is doing, while 68% give him negative ratings. This is slightly down from last month, when 34% gave the President positive marks and 66% gave him negative ones. This is the third time since the President began his first term that his positive ratings have been this low. The last time was just two months ago in November, and the first time was in September of 2011.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll® of 2,311 adults surveyed online between January 15 and 20, 2014 by Harris Interactive. (Full findings, including data tables, can be found here)

When it comes to moving his agenda forward, the odds are always that Democrats will be supportive of the President's initiatives and with over three in five of his own party (62%) giving President Obama positive ratings they probably will again this year. And, on the other hand, since just 8% of Republicans give President Obama positive ratings for the overall job he is doing, the odds here are that will they not be supportive of his agenda. So, the tie goes to the Independents and, unfortunately for the White House, just 22% give the President positive marks this month.

The surrogates

As the President moves forward his agenda, often the Vice President and members of the Cabinet are used as surrogates to assist in spreading the reasons to support the President. But, how do Americans think some of them are doing? Looking at the Vice President, just three in ten (30%) rate the job he is doing positively, while half (50%) rate it negatively and 21% are not familiar enough with him to have an opinion. In July, one-third of Americans (33%) rated the job Vice President Biden was doing positively, while 47% gave it negative marks; one in five (20%) were not familiar enough with him to have an opinion. The Secretary of State historically has had better numbers than other figures in Washington, with one suggested reason being that the focus on international affairs kept them out of the Inside the Beltway fray. Unfortunately, maybe because he was a presidential candidate and very familiar to the U.S. public, Secretary Kerry does not have that same goodwill as just 32% of Americans give the job he is doing positively, 43% negatively and 25% are not familiar enough to have an opinion. This is slightly down from July when 34% of U.S. adults gave him positive marks and 39% gave him negative ratings.

Not a surrogate by any means, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court can either be a help to the White House's agenda or a hindrance depending on his interpretation of the U.S. Constitution if any piece of the agenda makes its way to the Court. Over half of Americans (54%) are not familiar enough with Chief Justice Roberts to have an opinion, while 16% give him positive ratings and three in ten (30%) rate the job he is doing negatively.

To see other recent Harris Polls, please visit the Harris Poll News Room.

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This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between January 15 and 20, 2014 among 2,236 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words "margin of error" as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

Q1205, 1210, 1225, 1228

The Harris Poll® #10, January 27, 2014
By Regina A. Corso, SVP, Harris Poll and Public Relations, Harris Interactive

About Harris Interactive                                                                         
Harris Interactive is one of the world's leading market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for The Harris Poll®, Harris offers proprietary solutions in the areas of market and customer insight, corporate brand and reputation strategy, and marketing, advertising, public relations and communications research across a wide range of industries. Additionally, Harris has a portfolio of multi-client offerings that complement our custom solutions while maximizing a client's research investment. Serving clients worldwide through our North American and European offices, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help our clients stay ahead of what's next. For more information, please visit

Press Contact:
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Harris Interactive
[email protected]

SOURCE Harris Interactive

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