Americans and Their Government

By Harris, Special for  USDR

Positive ratings of President Obama’s overall job performance hit the four in ten mark this month (40%), not far from last month’s 39% and just shy of his recent peak of 41%, seen in May. This figure is up considerably, however, in comparison to where it sat in August of 2014  (32%).

Forty percent (40%) of Americans also rate President Obama positively on the job he’s doing handling the economy; this continues an incremental rise over the past few months (vs. 36% in June and 38% in July) and puts this rating at its highest level since February (when it was also 40%). Moreover, it’s a full ten points ahead of where it was a year ago (30% in August  2014).

On both these measures, strong majorities of Democrats approve of his performance (70% overall, 69% for his performance on the economy) while two-thirds of Independents (66% for each measure) and more than nine in ten Republicans (94% overall, 91% economy) disapprove of the work he’s  doing.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll® of 2,212 adults surveyed online between August 12 and 17, 2015. Full results of this study, including data tables, can be found  here.

Millennials are split on their sentiments toward the President overall, with roughly half each rating him positively and negatively. They’re definitely bigger fans than other generations, though – more likely than any of their elders to give him positive ratings (49%, vs. 36% Gen X, 37% Baby Boomers and 30% Matures) and less likely to rate him negatively (51%, vs. 64%, 63% and  70%).

  • A similar story emerges in relation to the president’s performance on the economy, with Millennials again giving the President the strongest positive ratings (47% vs. 37%, 38% and  32%).

Nine in ten Americans give Congress negative  ratings

One in ten Americans rate Congress positively on the overall job they’re doing (in line with last month’s 11% but up marginally from 8% last August). The other nine in ten (90%) give them negative ratings, with 54% calling out their performance specifically as poor.

  • Democrats (12%) and Independents (10%) are both more likely than Republicans (4%) to give Congress positive ratings.
  • Millennials again show the strongest positive ratings, though admittedly a positive rating of 17% (vs. 10%, 5% and 2%) does show substantial room for improvement.

Two in ten Americans (20%) rate their member of the House of Representatives positively, on par with last month’s  21%.

Direction of the  country

Just over a third of Americans (34%) believe things in the country are headed in the right direction, while 66% believe they’ve gotten off on the wrong  track.

  • A majority of Democrats (53%) believe the country is heading in the right direction, while majorities of Republicans (87%) and Independents (69%) believe things have gotten off on the wrong  track.

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This Harris Poll was conducted online, in English, within the United States between August 12 and 17, 2015 among 2,212 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.

Begun in 1963, The Harris Poll is one of the longest running surveys measuring public opinion in the U.S. and is highly regarded throughout the world.  The nationally representative polls, conducted primarily online, measure the knowledge, opinions, behaviors and motivations of the general public.  New and trended polls on a wide variety of subjects including politics, the economy, healthcare, foreign affairs, science and technology, sports and entertainment, and lifestyles are published weekly.  For more information, or to see other recent polls, visit us at

SOURCE The Harris  Poll

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