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.
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.
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.