As Government Shutdown Looms, Approval Ratings for President Obama and Congress Move Lower

Just three in ten Americans believe country is going in the right direction

Sep 30, 2013, 13:00 ET from Harris Interactive

NEW YORK, Sept. 30, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- As the clock continues to tick towards the looming government shutdown, all signs are pointing to the government actually shutting down non-essential functions at midnight, October 1st. As the finger pointing from the White House and within the two chambers of Congress continues, Americans are showing their displeasure in slipping approval numbers for both of these branches of the government. There is also a dip in the perceived direction of the country: this month 29% of Americans believe the country is going in the right direction, while 71% say it's seriously off on the wrong track. In July, 34% believed it was going in the right direction and 66% said it was off on the wrong track.

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These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,577 adults surveyed online between September 18 and 24, 2013 by Harris Interactive. (Full results, including data tables, can be found here)

Looking at President Obama, in July 39% of Americans gave him positive ratings for the overall job he was doing, while 61% gave the President negative ratings. This month, just one-third of Americans (34%) give the President positive marks for the overall job he is doing while two-thirds (66%) give him negative ratings.

While it's not surprising that 93% of Republicans and 88% of Conservatives give President Obama negative ratings, so do three-quarters of Independents (75%) and two-thirds of Moderates (65%). Within the President's own base, while 64% of both Democrats and Liberals give him positive marks, over one-third of each (36%) give him negative ratings.

It's much worse for Congress
In both June and July of this year, the ratings for Congress were bad. Just 9% of Americans gave them positive ratings and 91% gave Congress negative marks for the overall job it is doing. Well, it's gone even further down, and this month just 7% of U.S. adults give Congress positive ratings while 93% give them negative ones. This is something that brings those of all political persuasions together: nine in ten Democrats (90%) and over nine in ten Republicans (95%) and Independents (96%) give Congress negative ratings.

Healthcare and the economy
When asked what the two most important issues are for the government to address, one-third of Americans (33%) say it is healthcare, including Obamacare and Affordable Care Act mentions. The rest of the top five issues are all related to the economy. One-quarter each say the most important issue is employment/jobs (27%) and non-specific mentions of the economy (26%). About one in ten Americans each say that the budget deficit/national debt (12%) and the Budget/government spending (10%) are the most important issues for the government to address.

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This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between September 18 and 24, 2013 among 2,577 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, 1210, 1215, 1220

The Harris Poll® #68, September 30, 2013
By Regina A. Corso, SVP, Harris Poll and Public Relations, Harris Interactive

About Harris Interactive
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