Additional Research

Voters Believe America Is Worse Off Than When Obama Took Office

November 8, 2011

Resurgent Republic conducted a survey of 1000 American voters October 30 through November 2, 2011, with full results available here. Following are key highlights pertaining to President Obama:

  1. If President Obama's reelection campaign is a referendum on the incumbent, as are almost all reelection campaigns, then he remains in deep trouble a year out from the election, because Americans believe the country is worse off than when he was inaugurated.

    When evaluating the condition of the country, today a majority of American voters:

    • Thinks the country is on the wrong track (70 percent), the highest wrong track number Resurgent Republic has recorded since our first survey in April 2009.

    • Thinks the federal government's financial situation is worse (67 percent) than when Obama took office;

    • Thinks the American economy is worse (61 percent);

    • Thinks the federal government's ability to solve problems is worse (60 percent);

    • Thinks America's standing in the world is worse (50 percent).

    The only measure on which Americans believe the country is better off is safety from terrorists, where 39 percent say we are better, 38 percent the same, and 20 percent worse.

  2. Because Americans believe the country has declined on Obama's watch, his reelection numbers are stuck in the low 40s.

    • Only 42 percent of American voters think Obama deserves reelection, while a majority – 51 percent – thinks it is time for someone else. Those numbers are essentially unchanged from our August survey, which shows 42 percent deserves reelection/52 percent time for someone else.

    • Only one-third of Independent voters say Obama deserves reelection: 33 percent deserves reelection/54 percent time for someone else.

    • When pitted against a generic Republican candidate, Obama stands at 42 percent versus 43 percent for the Republican, essentially unchanged from our 43/43 finding in August, and weaker than our 43/40 finding last January. Past elections show that undecided voters are very unlikely to break in favor of the incumbent.

    • Independent voters prefer the Republican candidate over Obama by a double-digit margin – 43 to 32 percent.

  3. A majority of voters in swing states says it is time for someone else to be President. We have defined swing states here as eight states that voted for Bush in 2004 and Obama in 2008 (CO, FL, IA, NC, NM, NV, OH, VA), plus four other states whose 2010 Republican victories make them fertile ground for a Republican presidential nominee (MI, NH, PA, WI). In those 12 states:

    • A majority of voters, 53 percent, thinks it is time for someone else to be President; only 40 percent think Obama deserves reelection.

    • Independents in those states overwhelmingly think it is time for someone else, 61 percent; only 28 percent think he deserves reelection.

  4. Key portions of the Obama 2008 coalition have soured on the President.

    • While households with public sector union members continue to believe that Obama deserves reelection by 52 to 39 percent, a majority of private sector union households thinks it is time for someone else – 52 to 43 percent. That is not far from the result among non-union households who want someone else to be President, 53 to 40 percent. In 2008 exit polls showed that union member households voted for Obama over McCain by 59 to 39 percent.

    • Younger voters age 18 to 34 years old prefer the Republican candidate over Obama by 45 to 36 percent. A majority of younger voters – 54 percent – wants someone else to be President; only 36 percent say Obama deserves reelection. While the age breaks are not exactly comparable, those results stand in stark contrast to the 2008 election, where exit polls showed younger voters age 18 to 29 voted for Obama over McCain by 66 to 32 percent.

    • As shown in Resurgent Republic's September surveys in Florida, Colorado, and New Mexico, Obama is underperforming among Hispanic voters. While he carried the Hispanic vote by 67 to 31 percent in 2008, Obama is below 50 percent on two key reelection measures today. Fewer than half of Hispanic voters prefer Obama over a Republican alternative, 48 to 35 percent. Moreover, they split evenly on whether Obama deserves reelection: 47 percent deserves reelection, 47 percent time for someone else.

  5. Voters split on Obama's job approval overall, with intensity on the side of disapproval, and they overwhelmingly disapprove of his handling of the economy.

    • Overall 50 percent approve of his job performance, a three-point increase since August, but Republicans and Independents remain very negative. Approve/disapprove ratings are 13/85 among Republicans and 43/53 among Independents. Only Democrats approve at 88/9.

    • After a resounding defeat in 2010 and reenergized efforts to win back the center, Obama's standing with Independents has deteriorated over the course of the year. In the January 2011 Resurgent Republic survey, Independents split evenly on Obama's job approval/disapproval at 47/47, versus 43/53 today.

    • Voters disapprove of Obama's handling of the economy: 43 percent approve and 54 percent disapprove. Once again Republicans and Independents are very negative: 12/88 among Republicans and 35/62 among Independents. Only Democrats remain positive at 78/18.

    • Intensity is on the negative side on both questions. On overall job performance, 26 percent strongly approve while 36 percent strongly disapprove. On the economy, 20 percent strongly approve and 42 percent strongly disapprove. Tellingly, among Independent voters strong disapproval on Obama's economic performance outweighs strong approval by almost four-to-one: 12 percent strongly approve and 45 percent strongly disapprove.

  6. Republicans and Independents think Barack Obama and the Democrats control Washington, while Democrats think Republicans in Congress are in control. In yet another indicator of the low esteem with which Washington is held in the country, each party views the other one as in control. Republicans view Obama and the Democrats as controlling Washington by 67 to 15 percent, while Democrats view Republicans as in control by 55 to 26 percent. Independents split more evenly, but still view Obama/Democrats in control by 39 to 34 percent.

  7. Democrats see Obama as "an outsider trying to change the way Washington works," while Republicans and Independents split evenly on whether he is an outsider or "an insider who is part of the way Washington works."Democrats say he is an outsider over an insider by 59 to 31 percent, while Republicans split 44 to 46 percent, as do Independents at 45 to 44 percent.

  8. Democrats see Obama as more interested in "working with Republicans to get things done," while Independents agree with Republicans that he is more interested in "campaigning against Republicans in Congress to win reelection." Democrats say he is interested in working across the aisle to get things done by 72 to 18 percent, but Republicans and Independents think he is campaigning against Republicans for reelection by 80 to 17 percent and 53 to 37 percent, respectively.

Read the full report: Voters Believe America Is Worse Off Than When Obama Took Office

Filed under: President Obama, Polling Analysis, and Obama Approval Rating