What Do They Say about President Obama?

A year ago, after President Barack Obama’s first year in office, Americans seemed hopeful as majorities agreed the President was trying to bring about needed change (60%), had fresh ideas (56%), and made other countries feel better about the United States (57%). 

Yet, he also was widely criticized at that time for not living up to his promises (60%), not accomplishing much (61%), and for spending too much money (61%). 

Now a year later, mid-way through his term, the same questions show that Americans feel slightly less positive about the President overall as fewer Americans say he is open and honest (53% versus 54% previously), has fresh ideas (52% versus 56%), and has made other countries feel better about the U.S. (50% versus 57%). 

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On the other hand, fewer people today also criticize the President for lack of action (53% versus 61%). 

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,566 adults surveyed online between Jan. 17 and 24, 2011 by Harris Interactive. The results of the survey were released today, Feb. 17.

Although majorities say that President Obama is spending too much and creating too much debt (56%), he hasn’t done much for us yet (53%), and that he has not lived up to his campaign promises (56%), greater numbers agreed with each of these items last January (between 60% and 61% for each), suggesting there may be a slight decline in negative views of the job President Obama is doing. 

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As an interesting juxtaposition, majorities say that the President spends too much time talking and there isn’t enough action (56%), yet over half of Americans also agree that the President does a good job of explaining issues to people like them (51%).

Moreover, Americans are split regarding the timing of changes—45% agree the President is not changing things fast enough, yet a third say he is changing things too fast (33%).

People seem to feel the President is a good person and a positive representative for the country—over half agree he is open, honest and trustworthy (53%) and half say he has made other countries feel better about the United States (50%) (less than two in five disagree with this (37%) and one in ten (13%) are not sure).

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According to the survey, there are interesting educational differences when exploring opinions of the President. Generally speaking, those with more education have more positive views of President Obama, and those with less education are less approving. 

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For example, almost three quarters of those with a post-graduate education say the President is open, honest and trustworthy (72%), whereas less than half of those who have not attended any college agree (47%);

Six in ten of those who have not attended college criticize President Obama for spending too much time talking and not enough action (60%). Over half of those with some college or a college degree say the same (55% and 54%), yet only two in five with a post-graduate education do (40%).

Harris Interactive is a leading custom market research firm.

Photo courtesy: www.whitehouse.gov

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