More Than Two in Five Americans Wish Reagan and Clinton Could Have Had a Third Term; Less Than One in Five Say This About Obama and Bush


Normally, summer is a quiet time in Washington, D.C. Congress comes back to finish off a few things before heading out for summer recess and even the President gets to take a little time off with his family. This summer, however, is anything but quiet. In addition to the various crises the White House has to handle, they also have to deal with an unhappy nation. Just one-third of Americans (34%) give President Obama positive ratings for the overall job he is doing, while two-thirds (66%) give him negative ratings. This is down from last month when almost two in four U.S. adults (38%) gave the President positive marks and over three in five (62%) gave him negative ones.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll® of 2,306 adults surveyed online between July 16 and 21, 2014.

(To see the full results including data tables, click here)

The President isn’t alone in the Administration with low approval ratings. Half of Americans (50%) give Vice President Joe Biden negative ratings for his job, three in ten (30%) give him positive ratings, and one in five (21%) are not familiar enough with him to have an opinion. This is unchanged from January of this year.

Looking at the Secretary of State, a man who has been extremely busy of late, three in ten Americans (31%) give John Kerry positive ratings for the job he is doing, more than two in five (44%) give him negative ratings, and one-quarter (26%) are not familiar enough to have an opinion. This is very similar to January when 32% gave him positive marks, 43% gave him negative ratings, and 25% were not familiar with him.

Meanwhile, down at the other end of the National Mall, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court has been in the news recently, as this year’s court term came to an end with a flurry of hot button rulings. But, over half of Americans (52%) say they are not familiar enough with Chief Justice John Roberts to have an opinion of him. Three in ten (31%) give him negative ratings, while less than one in five (17%) give him positive ratings.

Feelings on the direction the country is going in have gone down again this month. Last month, one-third of Americans (33%) said things were going in the right direction in the country, while two-thirds (67%) said things had gotten off on the wrong track. This month, three in ten (31%) say things are going in the right direction, while seven in ten (69%) say things are going off on the wrong track.

A third term?

In the past fifty years, only four Presidents, including the current one, have had two full terms. At this point in their tenure, it seems there is a little symmetry at play. Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton each had soaring job ratings at this point in their second term – 66% for President Reagan and 63% for President Clinton (with negatives of 32% and 36% respectively). Presidents Bush, on the other hand, had soaring negatives at 65% similar to President Obama’s 66% (with positives of 34% and 34% respectively). Regardless, would the American public want any of these men to have had or have the chance to take the oath of office for a third term? Two in five U.S. adults wish Ronald Reagan (42%) and Bill Clinton (42%) could have had a third term, while less than one in five say the same for Barack Obama (16%) and George W. Bush (15%).

When it comes to the partisan differences, each party backs their own, but there are favorites as over three-quarters of Republicans (77%) say they wish President Reagan could have had a third term compared to one-third (32%) for President Bush. Similarly among Democrats, two-thirds (68%) wish President Clinton could have had a third term while over one-third (36%) say the same about President Obama. For Independents, just over two in five (41%) would want a third Reagan term, while just under (39%) would have a third Clinton term.

But Americans are happy with the two term limit as over half (53%) say that Presidents should not be allowed to run for a third term. Almost two in five (38%) agree and one in ten (9%) are not at all sure. There is a strong partisan difference as three in five Democrats (59%) say presidents should be allowed to run for a third term, while seven in ten Republicans disagree with this idea. Would this be flipped if a Republican was currently in the White House and not a Democrat?

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This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between July 17 and 21, 2014 among 2,306 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® #73, June 24, 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

All opinions expressed on USDR are those of the author and not necessarily those of US Daily Review.

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