Launching Bi-weekly Public Opinion Roundup
by The Opportunity Agenda, Fri Apr 24, 2009 at 11:39:59 AM EDT
As President Barack Obama was assuming office in January, 93% of Americans said that restoring public trust in government should be a top priority (63%) or an important but lower priority (30%) for the new President. Take it as an absolute value, this is a stunningly high percentage; put it in comparison with the other seventeen (widely discussed) issues tested in an AP-Gfk survey, and you will find out that only improving the economy, creating more jobs, making the government more efficient and increasing the country’s independence scored higher.
It’s good to be reminded that people crave trust in government — despite well coordinated efforts that tell a different story. I won’t debate here the relationship of the individual to the “state” (an Aristotelian term in loan) but, in my bi-weekly visits to The Opportunity Agenda blog, I will translate the latest findings on public attitudes on public policy issues, voting patterns and trends, elections and elected officials.
Without an ideological lens, I will help understand Americans’ opinions on issues of public interest such as health care, immigration, the economy, and human rights; and explore how these opinions relate to people’s experience of a deeply held American value: the promise of opportunity. People’s outlook to the President's economic stimulus package can tell a true story about their perception of security,equality, mobility, voice, redemption, or community which make up opportunity, as explained in our newly released report The State of Opportunity in America.
Considering we are approaching the 100th day of Barack Obama's Presidency, I am summing up below what Americans think about The President's performance but also about their own standard of living.
The President’s personal and job approval ratings
In his first 100 days in office, President Obama enjoys top personal ratings at 73% of Americans holding a favorable impressions of him (see Pew Research Center study), higher than those of his predecessors George W Bush or Bill Clinton at the early days of their presidency. The President’s programs are less popular but still well above the regular norm for all approval ratings regardless of presidential quarter: Obama's average job approval in the first 100 days is 63% according to Gallup’s daily tracking. As far as party affiliation is concerned, there has been plenty of divide in the first quarter- as expected: approximately 90% of Democrats approve the job President Obama is doing while only 27% of Republicans feel the same way today - Republican approval in January was 41%. What comes as a surprise though, according to a Pew Research Center study, is Democrats' very strong approval of Obama compare to that of Bill Clinton— about 40 percentage points higher.
Trends lines = Gallup daily tracking | Dots = Other national polls
Read also Andrew Kohut's, president of the Pew Research Center, guest column in the New York Times on Obama vs. Reagan Ratings.
Americans' Standard of living
Gallup tracks on daily basis Americans' perception of their standard of living in terms of getting better or worse. Since January, about equal segments of the population have reported that their standard of living is getting better to those who said it is getting worse. To really comprehend such perceptions and identify change in those, we need to compare the figures in longer timeframe; especially considering the economic downturn of the past year. Here is what Gallup found:
In the dawn of 2008, many more Americans said that their standard of living was going upwards (53%) than those who said that it is getting worse (30%). "Getting worse" began to converge with 'getting better' in the summer of 2008, as gas prices surged, and later eclipsed it during the most frenetic days of the economic crisis.” The two trends have settled at only a couple of percentage points apart since the beginning of the year at about 38% for both “getting better” and “getting worse”.
I can safely assume that few would be surprised to hear that less and less people in the past year think that their lives are progressing. The media are watching; the Administration and our elected officials are also watching and are, hopefully, seeing that we are presented with a great opportunity to reconsider past decisions and correct the system wisely to make sure that we uphold our nation's values and we move together toward a brighter future.
PS: For further education of the opinion research consumer or expert, I will rovide links to discussions regarding methodology, and accuracy and transparency of public data - see Research Works feature at the bottom of this post; and for the sake of amusement, look for the Just-when-you-think-you-have-seen-it-all finding of the week.
Research works: To trust or not to trust a poll; Tips on how to judge the credibility of a survey for journalists and everyday consumers by the American Association of Public Opinion Research.
Just-when-you-think-you-have-seen-it-all finding of the week: 1 in 2 Republicans in Texas think the state would be better off if it was an independent nation, according to an April Research 2000 survey for Daily Kos blog. 1 out of 3 of all voters held the same opinion (expected).
To read more, visit The Opportunity Agenda's blog.