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Changing Opinions About President Obama
added: 2011-02-20

A year ago, after President Obama's first year in office, Americans seemed hopeful as majorities agreed the President was trying to bring about needed change (60%), had fresh ideas (56%), and made other countries feel better about the United States (57%). Yet, he also was widely criticized at that time for not living up to his promises (60%), not accomplishing much (61%), and for spending too much money (61%).

Now a year later, mid-way through his term, the same questions show that Americans feel slightly less positive about the President overall as fewer Americans say he is open and honest (53% versus 54% previously), has fresh ideas (52% versus 56%), and has made other countries feel better about the U.S. (50% versus 57%). On the other hand, fewer people today also criticize the President for lack of action (53% versus 61%).

Although majorities say that President Obama is spending too much and creating too much debt (56%), he hasn't done much for us yet (53%), and that he has not lived up to his campaign promises (56%), greater numbers agreed with each of these items last January (between 60% and 61% for each), suggesting there may be a slight decline in negative views of the job President Obama is doing. As an interesting juxtaposition, majorities say that the President spends too much time talking and there isn't enough action (56%), yet over half of Americans also agree that the President does a good job of explaining issues to people like them (51%).

Other findings of this poll include:

- Americans are split regarding the timing of changes—45% agree the President is not changing things fast enough, yet a third say he is changing things too fast (33%);

- People seem to feel the President is a good person and a positive representative for the country—over half agree he is open, honest and trustworthy (53%) and half say he has made other countries feel better about the United States (50%) (less than two in five disagree with this (37%) and one in ten (13%) are not sure).

Partisan Differences

It is not surprising that Democrats agree with more of the positive statements about the President, and Republicans agree with more of the negative ones, yet Obama interestingly does not receive completely contrary ratings overall. For example:

- While more than five in six Democrats (86%) and over half of Independents (54%) agree that the President is trying to bring about much needed change, three in ten Republicans also agree (29%);

- Similarly, over one quarter of Republicans (26%) agree with majorities of Democrats and Independents (87% and 55%) who say that Obama is trying to put the country back on track; and,

- Interestingly, Democrats and Independents seem more condemning of the speed of enacted change, as almost half (46% and 48%, respectively) say that Obama is not changing things fast enough, compared to two in five Republicans who agree (40%).

Educational Differences

There are interesting educational differences when exploring opinions of the President. Generally speaking, those with more education have more positive views of President Obama, and those with less education are less approving. For example:

- Almost three quarters of those with a post-graduate education say the President is open, honest and trustworthy (72%), whereas less than half of those who have not attended any college agree (47%);

- Six in ten of those who have not attended college criticize President Obama for spending too much time talking and not enough action (60%). Over half of those with some college or a college degree say the same (55% and 54%), yet only two in five with a post-graduate education do (40%).

So What?

These modest drops in both positive and negative opinions of the President may reflect the somewhat complex year that we've had. In the time since the questions were first asked a host of changes have been made and legislation passed. On the one hand this may have disappointed some who had different (or higher) hopes. On the other hand, the enacted change may have shown some of the President's critics that he has, in fact, been able to move his agenda along. Hindsight can be a valuable perspective and time will tell how President Obama, and this interesting time, is remembered.

Source: PR Newswire

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