Field Poll: Obama ratings slide

More California voters are becoming critical of the job Barack Obama is doing as President.

The latest Field Poll finds that while 51% of California voters approve of the President’s overall performance, a growing proportion (43%) disapprove. This represents an increase of 8 percentage points in the proportion disapproving since July. While the growth in the number of Californians disapproving spans most demographic subgroups, some of the greatest increases have occurred among voter segments who have been among the President’s strongest supporters. This includes independent voters with no party preference (+16), Latinos (+16), union-affiliated households (+18), and women (+13).

Click here for the complete survey, including tables and details of methodology.

Californians’ assessments of the President’s performance in two specific areas – his handling health care and foreign policy – have also declined compared to past measures. In addition, there has been a significant worsening in Californians’ views of the overall direction that the U.S. is heading, with 33% saying the country is moving in the right direction and 55% saying it is seriously off on the wrong track.
These are the findings of the latest statewide Field Poll completed this week.

Trend in Obama’s job approval in California
The current survey finds 51% of registered voters in this state approving of the job Obama is doing as President, while 43% disapprove. This represents an increase 8 percentage points in the proportion of Californians who disapprove of Obama since July and a 10-point decline since the beginning of his second term.

Trend of Obama’s job performance rating across voter subgroups
The President’s job approval ratings have declined across most subgroups of the state’s registered voter population over the past year. Some of the largest declines in Obama’s job approval rating have come from segments of the California electorate that had been among the President’s strongest supporters. For example, since the proportions disapproving have increased by 16 points among independents with no party preference, 16 points among Latinos, 18 points among union-affiliated households, and 13 points among women.

Obama’s job ratings in specific areas
The President’s job approval has suffered in two of three specific areas compared to past measures.

More Californians now disapprove (50%) than approve (43%) of the way Obama is handling health care, his signature domestic policy issue. In addition, whereas early in his tenure The Field Poll had shown very large majorities supportive of the President handling of the nation’s foreign policy, voters now offer a more mixed assessment, with 49% approving and 40% disapproving.

There has been no significant change over the past three years in Californians views of the President’s performance on the economy, with about as many approving (49%) as disapproving (45%).

Image appraisals of the President
When it comes to what Californians think of Obama personally, a 55% majority still views him favorably, statistically unchanged from earlier measures. However, the proportion who view him unfavorably has increased from 35% in July to 41% in the current poll.

There is a sharp divergence in the views that California Democrats and Republicans have of Obama. Democrats continue to view him in an overwhelmingly positive light, with 81% having a favorable view and 16% unfavorable. However, among Republicans the perception is completely reversed – 84% unfavorable vs. 14% favorable. Independent voters are more positive than negative in their assessments, with 59% holding a favorable view and 37% unfavorable.

Overall direction of the U.S.
One of the simplest but still illuminating measures of the overall mood of voters is captured when asked to consider whether the country is heading in the right direction or whether it is seriously off on the wrong track.

The current poll shows a significant worsening in Californians’ views of the overall direction of the country, with 33% saying the U.S. is moving in the right direction and 55% feeling it is seriously off on the wrong track. Last February more Californians (48%) felt the country was moving in the right direction as said it was on the wrong track (44%).

Ed’s Note: The findings in this report are based on a Field Poll completed November 14-December 1, 2013 among 766 registered voters in California. The maximum sampling error for results from the overall sample is +/- 3.5 percentage points at the 95% confidence level, while findings from the random subsample have a sampling error of +/- 4.5 percentage points. The maximum sampling error is based on results in the middle of the sampling distribution (i.e., percentages at or near 50%). Percentages at either end of the distribution (those closer to 10% or 90%) have a smaller margin of error. 


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