As the economy continues to go through ups and downs, as some scandals seem to go to the back burner while others remain in the forefront, and as the President returns from Europe and leaves for Africa, there are also differing reads on how things in the country are going right now. Looking specifically at President Obama, this month 41% of Americans give the President positive ratings for the overall job he has been doing, while 59% give him negative ratings. This is slightly up from March, when 38% of U.S. adults gave President Obama positive ratings and 62% gave him negative marks.
By political party and ideology, just 12% of Republicans and 15% of Conservatives give President Obama positive ratings. Among Independents over three in five (62%) give him negative ratings but just over half of Moderates (55%) feel the same. Among both Democrats and Liberals, 68% give President Obama positive ratings and 32% give him negative ratings.
Congress, however, has universally low approval ratings. Only one in ten Americans (9%) give Congress positive marks on their overall job performance, while nine in ten (91%) give it negative ratings. But this is a slight improvement from March, when 6% gave Congress positive ratings and 94% gave it negative ones.
Looking at the direction of the country, 37% of Americans say things in the country are going in the right direction while 63% say things have pretty seriously gotten off on the wrong track. Last month, 61% of U.S. adults said things had gotten off on the wrong track while 39% believed things were going in the right direction.
Unchanged are the top issues that Americans believe the government should address. Almost one-third of Americans (32%) say one of the two most important issues is the economy, while three in ten (30%) say it is employment/jobs and 22% believe it is healthcare (not Medicare). Rounding out the top five most important issues are immigration (13%) and the deficit/national debt (10%).
While approval ratings always matter, what seems to be ever more important is how Americans perceive the White House’s handling of economic issues. When it comes to the overall job that President Obama is doing on the economy, just over one-third of Americans (35%) give the President positive ratings, while 65% give him negative marks.
Looking at the overall economy, Americans seem to be anticipating the status quo. One-third (32%) expect the economy to improve in the coming year, 27% expect it to get worse and 41% say it will stay the same. Just about one-quarter each of U.S. adults believe their household’s financial condition will be better (24%) and will be worse (23%) in the next six months, but over half (53%) say it will remain the same.
President Obama, being in his second term, doesn’t have to run again – but there are two reasons he needs to keep on top of his approval ratings. First, he does want to ensure his legacy. That is something all second term presidents have to think about early on in the term. Second, he has to make sure that his woes do not hurt Democrats across the country as they run for other offices. So far, many high profile Democrats are deciding not to run for higher office in 2014. But Republicans are also having some troubles finding high quality candidates, so the playing field may be level.