News

Sharp drop in Obama approval rating

There has been a sizeable decline in President Barack Obama’s job approval rating among California voters over the last few months.

A statewide Field Poll completed last week found that almost as many Californians now disapprove of the job the President is doing (43%) as approve (45%). The full poll and a description of its methodology can be viewed here.

This reading is the poorest appraisal of the job performance that Obama has received of his presidency and is in sharp contrast to the 62% favorable perception that California voters had of him at the beginning of his second term. Most of the recent decline in the President’s approval ratings has occurred among subgroups of voters who had been among Obama’s strongest supporters in prior polls.

The survey also finds that a majority of voters in this state continue to have a negative view of the overall direction of the country. Fifty-one percent of California voters believe the U.S. is seriously off on the wrong track, while only about one in three (36%) feel the country it is headed in the right direction.

Trend of the President’s job ratings in California
In March 2009, shortly after Obama first won election to the White House, about two in three California voters (65%) said they approved of the job the President was doing. Voter approval of Obama declined some, but continued to include a majority of Californians throughout 2009, 2010 and into the summer of 2011. For a brief period in late 2011 slightly less than half approved of the President’s performance, but it rebounded during his 2012 re-election year, and following his re-election it again exceeded 60% early in his second term. However, somewhat smaller majorities approved of Obama in mid to late 2013, and remained that way through the summer of this year.

The decline in Obama’s approval rating to 45% in the current poll is the lowest of his Presidency.

Where Obama’s approval rating has declined the most
Most of the recent decline in Obama’s approval has occurred among subgroups of voters who had been among Obama’s strongest supporters in prior polls.

For example, there has been a nine-percentage point decline in the way Democratic voters view the President. In early June 76% of California Democrats approved of the President’s performance in office. That has dropped to 68% in the current poll. Over the same period there has been little change among Republicans, with about eight in ten continuing to disapprove of Obama.

Other subgroups where Obama’s approval ratings have declined by large margins include voters in Los Angeles County (-11 points), Central Valley voters (-11 points), voters who have a post graduate education (-11 points), Asian Americans (-10 points), middle-of-the-road voters (-9 points) and voters age 30-39 (-9 points), voters age 50-64 (-9 points), San Francisco Bay Area voters (-7 points) and strong liberals (-7 points).

Views about the country’s direction
Voters in this state continue to have a more negative than positive view of the direction of the country. Fifty-one percent of California voters in the current survey believe the U.S. is seriously off on the wrong track, while slightly more than one in three (36%) feel the country it is headed in the right direction.

Over the past twenty-five years there have been relatively few periods in which majorities of Californians have held a positive opinion about the country’s overall direction. It occurred for a brief period prior to Obama’s re-election to a second term, and eleven years earlier following the September 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.

Ed’s Note: This Field Poll was completed August 14-28, 2014 among 1,280 California registered voters. The maximum sampling error for results from the overall sample survey is +/- 3.2 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. 


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