Americans Have More Negative than Positive Feelings Towards Administration and Congressional Leaders in DC

Jul 29, 2013, 05:00 ET from Harris Interactive

Just one-third believe things in the country are going in the right direction

NEW YORK, July 29, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Summer time in DC is not always the best, weather-wise. Our nation's capital sits on a swamp, and as the humidity rises, sometimes so too do the tempers and the inability to get along. This is why Congress tends to disappear and head home for all of August. Unfortunately, as the political leaders leave the environs of their offices, they really should not expect to be welcomed home with open arms, as Americans are not very happy overall with them or their institution. How U.S. adults think about the state of the country continues its downward trend. In May, 39% of Americans thought things in the country were heading in the right direction; in June, that was 37%. This month, 34% of U.S. adults say things are going in the right direction, while 66% say they are heading off on the wrong track.


First, looking at President Obama, this month 39% of Americans give him positive ratings for the overall job he has been doing, while 61% give the President negative ratings. This is slightly down from last month, when 41% of U.S. adults gave President Obama positive ratings and 59% gave him negative marks.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,242 adults surveyed online between July 17 and 22, 2013, 2013 by Harris Interactive. (Full findings, including data tables, available here)

Vice President Joe Biden's numbers are a little lower. Just one-third of Americans (33%) give him positive ratings, while almost half (47%) give him negative ratings and one in five U.S. adults (20%) say they are not familiar enough with the Vice President to have an opinion of the job he is doing. After the President, the "best" in terms of how the public perceives him is Secretary of State John Kerry. While over one-quarter (27%) say they are not familiar with him, 34% have a positive opinion of the job he is doing and 39% have a negative opinion.

The Supreme Court recently wrapped up what was a busy and tumultuous year, but half of Americans (52%) say they are not familiar enough with Chief Justice John Roberts to have an opinion of the overall job he is doing. One in ten U.S. adults (18%) give the Chief Justice positive ratings, while 30% give him negative marks.

Congress, the Parties and Congressional leaders
While the situation for the President and some of the administration may be bad, it's not as bad as it is for Congress and some of its leadership. Staying the same from last month, only one in ten Americans (9%) give Congress positive marks on their overall job performance, while nine in ten (91%) give it negative ratings. It is just slightly better for the leadership of the United States Senate. Around half of Americans say they are not familiar with both Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (46%) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (54%). One in ten Americans (11%) give each man positive marks, while 43% give Senator Reid negative ratings and 35% give Senator McConnell negative ratings.

For leaders of the House, the numbers are a little bit better – but not much. For Speaker John Boehner, 13% of Americans give the job he is doing positive marks, 51% give him negative marks and 36% say they are not familiar enough with him to have an opinion. Almost one in five U.S. adults (18%) give House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi positive ratings, but 53% give her negative marks and three in ten (29%) are not familiar with her. When it comes to the two parties overall, Democrats in Congress have the edge, as 18% give them positive ratings, 51% give them negative marks and 31% are not familiar. For Republicans in Congress, just 11% of Americans give them positive ratings, 56% give them negative marks and 33% are not familiar with them.

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This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between July 17 and 22, 2013 among 2,242 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, Harris Interactive 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 Interactive 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 the Harris Interactive 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 Harris Interactive.

Q1205, 1208, 1210, 1215, 1226, 1229

The Harris Poll® #49, July 29, 2013
By Regina A. Corso, SVP, Harris Poll and Public Relations, Harris Interactive

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