Obama Job Approval At 36%

A new Economist/YouGov poll gives the President his lowest job approval numbers to date:

This week’s Economist/YouGov Poll is full of bad news for President Barack Obama. The frontrunners for the GOP nomination in the 2012 contest are pulling very close to him in head-to-head matchups, and his approval rating has been at or near the lowest levels of his Presidency for the last few weeks. And the worrisome economy keeps it there: this week just 36% approve of the way he is handing his job overall, the lowest rating ever in the two and a half years of his Presidency.

More than half the public — 56% — disapproves of the President’s performance.

There are several other indications in the poll of how opinion about the President has changed over time. Well over half the country has concerns about what the President says. 57% believes most of what he says is what he wants people to hear, and not what he really believes. That is one point short of the highest percentage recorded on this question in this poll.

In addition, the President now receives negative assessments from the public on a number of characteristics. The Economist/YouGov Poll asks respondents whether or not they would use certain words to describe the President. Many respondents aren’t sure one way or the other on some words. But more than half (55%) say the President is intelligent and only 15% do not think that. This view has been fairly consistent throughout the Obama Presidency.

But for some of those adjectives, the trend has been decidedly negative. Just 15% would describe him as “effective,” while 40% would not. At the beginning of 2010, Americans were evenly divided on this.

Obama’s historic performance in this particular poll has a familiar pattern:

This isn’t a very well known poll at the moment, although it’s worth noting that YouGov scored fairly highly in Nate Silver’s survey of poll accuracy in the wake of the 2010 elections. It’s also pretty much in line with the general trend line at the moment, where the poll average — which, it’s worth noting, includes polls that measure different types of samples — shows Obama with a 41% approval rating:

The significant thing to note here is that we’re starting to see poling come in that was done after the President’s jobs speech, and after he introduced his jobs plan and his deficit reduction plan, and the public doesn’t seem to be all that impressed with him, even if they do nominally support some of the details of the plans that he’s proposed. This could mean that people have given up hope that Washington can do anything to the economy, or that they’re starting to tune the President out. If it’s the latter, then the President could have a problem.

FILED UNDER: US Politics, , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Sam says:

    No ONE poll will give us all the info but taken in a bunch it does not look good for The One.

    Here is a poll that is devastating to The One.


    Who or what is the GREATEST threat to the United States?

    1: the economy
    2: Barack Hussein Obama


  2. Fiona says:


    You fail to mention that only 12 percent of respondents listed Obama as the greatest threat to US security. Ooops!

    Given the likelihood that the economy is not going to improve by Nov. 2012, Obama has an uphill battle for re-election. All the more reason to hope that the Republicans nominate one of the two sane candidates currently in the race (Romney or Huntsman) or that someone sane enters in the next couple of months.

    I think the public is pretty sick of DC politicos in general–the approval ratings for Congress are even worse–but it would be silly to think that voters won’t take their anger out on the president.

  3. Sam says:


    I failed to mention nothing!! Given 11 options the numbers are low even on the economy.
    I only posted the poll and left the rest up to you.

    Obama was the SECOND threat and THAT speaks for itself. Adding up the numbers we only see 76% of all respondents. What happened to the others?

  4. Tano says:

    Good for you for putting up the RCP average chart along with the E/YG poll chart. It shows quite clearly that this new poll is not only an extreme outlier, but that the poll itself is systematically an outlier.

    While the average of all polls showed positive approval for Obama in early 2011, and then again with the binLaden bump the E/YG poll has been consistently negative for two years.

    The average approval is 43%. Heck, even Rasmussen has Obama at 44% today, and at 45 or 46 throughout the time that the E/YG poll was in the field.

    I know you just can’t help yourself with these outlier polls (though oddly enough, its only outliers that are negative for Obama that you seem to notice)…but I do appreciate your small efforts at acknowledging the larger context.

  5. michael reynolds says:

    I don’t approve of the job he’s doing.

    But I’ll vote for him. There’s no alternative.

  6. superdestroyer says:

    Does not matter. President Obama is doing to be re-elected without about the same or a higher percentage of the popular vote that he received in 2008.

    The only question in the 2012 election is how many seats are the Republicans doing to lose in the House and whether the Republicans make any gains in the Senate.

    In Jan 2013, politics will look much like it does today with the government spending too much, with budget issue dominating, continuing resolutions, debt limits, and the refusal to deal with long term entitlement spending.

    People will soon realize that the real legal of GW Bush is that he will be the last Repulbican president and the U.S. is entering a period of one party politics where the Democrats dominate and the Republicans are speed bums. This period will only last until the next wave of amnesty for illegal aliens when the Republican Party will officially end.

  7. Brummagem Joe says:


    Perhaps a little optimistic. The outcome of the 2012 election is almost certainly going to depend on turnout. If over 125 million people vote, Obama is probably home, if substantially less he’s probably not. If the turnout is the same as 2008 (ie. around 132-133 million the Democrats will hold onto the senate and maybe have a shot at taking the house back. Not that that’s the best scenario for them. Much better to hold onto the presidency and the senate and leave a Republican majority of say 10-20 in the house.

  8. 2011 says:

    Unless something happens that truly helps our economy instead of re-inflating the same bubbles with more fail stimulus, Obama’s approval ratings will continue to fall.