Barack Obama's approval ratings have suffered major declines. The president's overall job approval number fell from 61% in mid-June to 54% currently. His approval ratings for handling the economy and the federal budget deficit have also fallen sharply, tumbling to 38% and 32%, respectively. Majorities now say they disapprove of the way the president is handling these two issues. The new poll also finds significant declines over the last few months in the percentage of Americans giving Obama high marks for dealing with health care, foreign policy and tax policy.
Three factors have likely contributed to more negative views of Obama. First, criticisms of the government's economic policies are mounting. For the first time since Obama took office, as many say the government is on the wrong track (48%) as on the right track (46%) in handling the nation's economic problems. In May, 53% said the government was on the right track on the economy, while 39% said it was on the wrong track.
Secondly, the latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted July 22-26 among 1,506 adults reached on landlines and cell phones, finds that many of the health care proposals being debated in Congress are sparking negative reactions, especially from those following the debate most closely. By a 44% to 38% margin, more Americans generally oppose than favor the health care proposals now before Congress. Opposition rises to 56% among people who say they have heard a lot about legislation to overhaul the health care system. Concerns about the costs and increased government involvement in the health care system are volunteered most often by Americans critical of the health care proposals.
Thirdly, Obama's comments on the arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr. appear to have played some role in his ratings decline. News about the arrest of the prominent African American Harvard professor at his Cambridge home was widely followed by the public and 79% are aware of Obama's comments on the incident. Analysis of the poll data found that the president's approval ratings fell among non-Hispanic whites over the course of the interviewing period as the focus of the Gates story shifted from details about the incident to Obama's remarks about the incident1. Interviews Wednesday and Thursday of last week found 53% of whites approving of Obama's job performance. This slipped to 46% among whites interviewed Friday through Sunday as the Gates story played out across the nation.
Read the full report Obama's Ratings Slide Across the Board on the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press' Web site.