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April Brings Cherry Blossoms and Negative Ratings on Issues for President Obama

Congress remains at historical lows for job ratings

NEW YORK, April 28, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- In Washington, D.C., April is a majestic time. The Cherry Blossoms have bloomed and the soft petals are raining beautifully down in the nation's capital. But, if you are a politician, whether in Congress or at the White House, April brings more of the same – low approval numbers and a pretty unhappy electorate. President Obama seems mired in the low to mid 30s for positive ratings for the overall job he is doing. In March, just over one-third of Americans (35%) gave him positive ratings while 65% gave him negative ones. This month, one-third of U.S. adults (33%) give him positive marks while two-thirds (67%) give him negative ratings.

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These are some of the results of The Harris Poll® of 2,300 adults surveyed online between April 16 and 21, 2014. (Full results, including data tables and partisan breakdowns, available here)

Perceptions of Congress also are holding steady, as more than nine in ten Americans (93%) give them negative ratings this month while 7% give them positive ratings. Last month, 8% of U.S. adults gave them positive ratings while 92% gave them negative marks. What is unchanged is the attitude towards how things in the country are going. For the third month in a row, one-third of Americans (34%) say things in the country are going in the right direction while two-thirds (66%) say things have gotten off on the wrong track.

President Obama's Handling of Specific Issues

While the Obama Administration will not have to run for re-election again, they do need to provide support to other Democrats around the nation who do, either through fund-raising, campaigning or sometimes both. But, will Democrats rush to embrace the President if he comes into their district? It's not only his overall job ratings that are low; he also has mostly negative ratings on ten specific issues as well. First, on his handling of the economy one-third of Americans (32%) give him positive ratings while two-thirds (68%) give him negative ratings. This is about the same as March, when he received positive ratings from 31% of U.S. adults and negative marks from 69%. The same number (32%) gives President Obama positive ratings for his handling of jobs, down from 37% in May, 2013.

The "best" issue for the President is his handling of terrorism as just under half (48%) give him positive ratings while the same number give him negative marks. Looking at some other issues:

  • Healthcare was the president's signature issue for his first term but three in five Americans (59%) give him negative marks while 38% give him positive ones;
  • Just 36% of Americans give President Obama positive ratings on the job he's doing on education, down from 41% who said this in May of last year;
  • Earth Day has just passed and just over one-third of U.S. adults (35%) give the President positive ratings on his handling of the environment, down from 41% who said this in May, 2013;
  • When it comes to foreign policy, just one-third (32%) give the President positive ratings while three in ten (29%) give him positive marks for his handling of the unrest in the Middle East;
  • Just three in ten Americans (29%) give President Obama positive ratings for his handling of immigration, down from over one-third (35%) who gave him positive marks in May 2013; and,
  • Only one quarter of U.S. Adults (24%) give the President positive ratings for his handling of gun control, down from one-third (33%) in May, 2013.

To see partisan breakdowns for this survey and 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 April 16 and 21, 2014 among 2,300 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, The Harris Poll 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 Poll 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 our 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 The Harris Poll.

The Harris Poll® #41, April 28, 2014
By Regina A. Corso, VP, The Harris Poll and Public Relations Research

About Nielsen & The Harris Poll

On February 3, 2014, Nielsen acquired Harris Interactive and The Harris Poll.  Nielsen Holdings N.V. (NYSE: NLSN) is a global information and measurement company with leading market positions in marketing and consumer information, television and other media measurement, online intelligence and mobile measurement. Nielsen has a presence in approximately 100 countries, with headquarters in New York, USA and Diemen, the Netherlands. For more information, visit

Press Contact:
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The Harris Poll
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SOURCE The Harris Poll

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