Some Upticks in Attitudes on the Economy and Direction of the Country

However, President Obama does not do very well on his handling of specific issues

May 21, 2013, 05:00 ET from Harris Interactive

NEW YORK, May 21, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- There is an old saying in Washington – if you want a friend, get a dog. Last week, President Obama may have been very glad he has Bo to keep him company. While the issues of the IRS, Benghazi, and subpoenaing AP records may have kept the White House a little off kilter, there are some bright spots for the President, mostly on the economy. For the first time since September of 2009, the President's first year in office, two in five Americans (39%) give him positive marks on his overall job on handling the economy; three in five (61%) give him negative marks.

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Looking at household financial conditions, while half of Americans (50%) expect their financial conditions will stay the same over the next six months, one quarter each say it will get better (26%) and that it will get worse (24%). This is an improvement from April, when just over one in five thought their household's financial condition would get better (22%) and almost three in ten said it would get worse (28%). U.S adults are also slightly more optimistic about the coming year economically, with one-third (32%) saying they think the economy will improve and 25% saying it will get worse; two in five (42%) believe it will remain the same. In April, 29% believed it would improve while the same percentage thought it would get worse.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,240 adults surveyed online between May 8 and 13, 2013 by Harris Interactive. (Full findings with data tables available here)

There is also an improvement in how Americans believe the country as a whole is going, with two in five (39%) believing the country is going in the right direction and 61% saying things have pretty seriously gotten off on the wrong track. In March, 34% thought the country was going in the right direction while 66% said it was heading off on the wrong track.

President Obama and some specific issues

While attitudes on how President Obama is handling the economy are slowly improving, it is not the same on other issues. In looking at 9 other issues, a majority of Americans gives the President negative ratings for his handling of 8 and the public is split on the ninth issue. With terrorism, just under half give the President both positive (47%) and negative (49%) ratings. Two in five U.S. adults give President Obama positive ratings for his handling of education (41%, down from 47% in January), the environment (41%, down from 44%), his handling of the situation in North Korea (40%) and healthcare (39%, down from 43%). Just under two in five give the President positive marks for his handling of jobs (37%, down from 39%) and 35% each give him positive ratings on his handling of the unrest in the Middle East (down from 40%) and immigration (up slightly from 34%). The only place President Obama shows a marked increase is in his handling of gun control; that was a positive rating of 27% in January and is now at 33%).

The President is just four months into his second term and, by all accounts, is not having an easy time of it. Luckily for the White House, the economy's improvement, while still not as robust as many Americans would like, is still sputtering upwards and people are taking notice of it. However, this may not be all good news for the economy. If people are no longer as worried about the economy, they may start looking at other issues in the news – and there are three keeping the White House up at night right now.

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This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between May 8 and 13, 2013 among 2,240 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.

705, 713, 730, 1111, 1205

The Harris Poll® #28, May 21, 2013
By Regina A. Corso, SVP, Harris Poll and Public Relations, Harris Interactive

About Harris Interactive

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