Obama’s Approval Ratings Hold Despite Pessimism about the Direction of the Country

In Upcoming Midterm Elections, 45% of Registered Voters Plan to Cast Their Ballot for a Democrat vs. 42% for a Republican

Monday, May 17, 2010

Washington, DC – Just 34% of Americans think that things in this country are headed in the right direction while 60% feel that they are off on the wrong track, according to a new telephone poll of over 1,000 adults conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs. These measures show a six-point drop in the percentage of Americans who feel the country is going in the right direction since Ipsos’ previous reading of the national mood in early April. The current numbers are identical to those Ipsos had recorded in late February and display the highest level of pessimism since President Obama took office.

Yet, Obama’s job performance ratings have held steady over the past six months. Currently 52% of adults surveyed say that they approve of his job as President (up 1 point since early April and only 1 point lower than in late October 2009) while 43% disapprove of it (down 3 points since April and the same as in late October). Obama’s job approval ratings across party lines (84% among Democrats, 40% among Independents, and 18% among Republicans) have also remained stable.

  • Also, adults under the age 35 continue to be more likely than those who are older to approve of how Obama is handling his job as President (64% vs. 47%). Other demographic groups who are more likely to offer their approval include African-Americans (93%), unmarried adults (66%), Northeasterners (62%), and Hispanics (62%).
  • In contrast, those most likely to disapprove of Obama’s job performance include married adults (52%), Southerners (52%), those with a household income of at least $50,000 (51%), and retirees (48%).

Looking ahead to the midterm elections, 46% of surveyed adults say that they plan on voting for the Democratic Congressional candidate in their district while 39% plan to vote for the Republican. Another 2% intend to vote for a third party candidate, 9% are unsure, and 4% do not plan on voting at all.

Among registered voters, it’s a closer call, with 45% saying they plan to vote Democratic and 42% Republican, while 8% are unsure. Looking at voters in Democratic and Republican Congressional districts, the incumbent party is the choice of only a very slight majority – 51% in both cases. However, 36% of those in Republican districts plan on voting for the Democratic candidate while 37% of those in Democratic districts intend to vote Republican.

Among all adults surveyed, few intend to cross party lines with their vote in the midterm elections, as just 3% of those who consider themselves as Democrats intend to vote for the Republican candidate and 4% of those who consider themselves as Republicans plan to vote the Democratic candidate. Among Independents, equal proportions (28%) intend to vote for the candidates of each party while 26% are undecided and 14% say that they do not intend to vote.

Those most likely to say they will vote for the Democrat running in their district include African Americans (87%), Hispanics (62%), unmarried adults (59%), and those with a household income of less than $50,000 (58%). Conversely, Southerners (49%), those with a household income of at least $50,000 (49%), married adults (46%), and college graduates (45%) are among those most likely to vote for the GOP candidate.

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted May 6-9, 2010. For the survey, a nationally representative, randomly selected sample of exactly 1,016 adults aged 18 and older across the United States was interviewed by Ipsos. With a sample of this size, the results are considered accurate within 3.07 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what they would have been had the entire adult population in the U.S. been polled. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error. These data were weighted to ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the actual U.S. population according to U.S. Census figures. Respondents had the option to be interviewed in English or Spanish.

For more information on this press release, please contact:
Clifford Young
Senior Vice President
Ipsos Public Affairs

About Ipsos

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Obama’s Approval Ratings Hold 
Despite Pessimism about the Direction of the Country


Clifford Young
President, US
Ipsos Public Affairs