PRINCETON, NJ -- Amidst President Obama's push in July to revamp the nation's healthcare system, Gallup finds his average job approval rating registering 56% for the seven-day period ending Sunday, down from 59% the previous week. This three percentage point drop is the largest week-to-week decline seen in Obama's job approval thus far in his presidency, and punctuates a gradual descent from his 66% rating in early May.
The current week is starting off no better for Obama than the previous one. His job approval score in Gallup Poll Daily tracking, conducted July 25-27, is 54%; this is his lowest individual reading to date. Thirty-seven percent of Americans currently disapprove of the job he is doing and 9% have no opinion.
While Obama's recent commentary on the arrest of Harvard Professor Henry Gates has created a political firestorm, it appears that Obama's dip in public support began a few days prior to the July 22 press conference in which he spoke out on the matter. The press conference focused on healthcare, but Obama's assertion that Cambridge police acted "stupidly" in the Gates case, in answer to a question about the matter, has received considerable media attention.
The three-day average for Sunday through Wednesday, July 19-21, just prior to the press conference, was 57%, already down from readings over most of the other three-day periods in July. His approval was 56% using data from July 23-25, the first three-day period after the press conference -- not a major shift, and in the latest three-day average is 54%.
Support Down Among Whites and Hispanics
In terms of the slide from 59% approval for the week of July 13-19 to 56% from July 20-26, Obama saw a seven-point drop in support among Hispanics and a four-point drop among whites, but no decline among blacks.
The drop in support among Hispanics is somewhat curious given that close to 42% of Hispanics are without health insurance and therefore might be expected to welcome a healthcare reform initiative. Also, the drop in approval among Hispanics comes the week after the confirmation hearings of Hispanic Judge Sonia Sotomayor, something one might predict would earn Obama credit among Hispanic Americans.
The decline in Obama's job approval rating is seen at all annual income levels above $24,000. Just half of those making $60,000 or more in annual income now approve of the job the president is doing.
Approval of Obama has dropped primarily among those under 50 years of age.
Obama's support fell four to five points among independents and Democrats between the second and third weeks of July. That compares with a smaller two-point drop among Republicans. However, among Republicans, his support fell by nine points among moderate and liberal Republicans, while there was no change in the already-low support for Obama among conservative Republicans.
Gallup's weekly average approval ratings for Obama, each based on more than 3,600 interviews with U.S. national adults, provides strong evidence that the president lost some political steam in July. While approval for the job he is doing remains steadfast among blacks, it has slipped among whites and Hispanics, as well as among independents and members of his party.
This dip in support for Obama contrasts with general stability in public confidence in the U.S. economy this month -- thus the economy is not an obvious factor.
Perhaps with Obama stepping up pressure on Congress this month to pass what he terms "health insurance reform," healthcare has become a greater factor in how Americans perceive his job performance. The difficulty for Obama is that Americans are not fully behind him on that issue. A July 17-19 USA Today/Gallup poll found more Americans disapproving than approving of the job Obama is doing on healthcare.
The latest weekly average results are based on telephone interviews with 3,628 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted July 20-26, 2009. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±2 percentage points.
Interviews are conducted with respondents on land-line telephones (for respondents with a land-line telephone) and cellular phones (for respondents who are cell-phone only).
In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.