50 Percent Approve of President Obama, but 57 Percent Disapprove of Country's Direction


The latest Reason-Rupe poll finds President Obama enjoys a 50 percent approval rating, 7 points higher than his 43 percent disapproval. However, this isn't much different from a similar time period in President George W. Bush's presidency. In May 2005, the year after his re-election, Bush's approval rating hovered around 48 percent. Also in May 2005, the NBC/WSJ poll found 52 percent of Americans said the country was headed in the wrong direction. Today, slightly more, 57 percent say America is headed in the wrong direction, 34 percent say the country is headed in the right direction. Slightly more Americans approve of the president's handling of the economy, 47 disapprove and 45 percent approve. Americans continue to overwhelmingly disapprove of Congress (75 percent) while 16 percent approve.

While a majority of women approve of President Obama's job performance (52 to 40 percent), men are evenly divided at 47 percent. However, when taking into account race and ethnicity, 78 percent of non-white women approve of the President compared to 40 percent of white women. On the President's handling of the economy, 65 percent of non-white women approve of Obama, compared to 31 percent of white women. This indicates the gender gap on presidential approval is instead more highly correlated with race rather than gender. Sixty-two percent of young Americans under 35 approve of the President, compared to 44 percent of their older peers. Taking race and ethnicity into account, a majority a both young white (52 percent) and non-white (73 percent) Americans approve of the president. In sum, age and race tend to correlate more strongly than gender with presidential approval.

Self-identified liberals (56 percent) and Democrats (52 percent) are among the few groups in which a majority says the country is going in the right direction. In contrast, 77 percent of non-partisan Independents say the country is going in the wrong direction, as well as 79 percent of Republicans. Interestingly, despite significantly higher unemployment rates among younger Americans, they are more likely (42 percent) than older Americans (30 percent) to say the country is headed in the right direction. A majority of Americans in the Midwest (62 percent), South (61 percent), and Northeast (54 percent) say the country is headed in the wrong direction, but Americans in the West are evenly divided with 49 to 44 percent.

Nationwide telephone poll conducted May 9-13 2013 interviewed 1003 adults on both mobile (503) and landline (500) phones, with a margin of error +/- 3.7%. Columns may not add up to 100% due to rounding. Full poll results found here. Full methodology can be found here. Demographics and detailed tables are available here.