PRINCETON, NJ -- Americans' ratings of the job President Barack Obama is doing in three key areas are much less positive than their expectations were for him shortly after he took office. Americans give Obama the best review for protecting the environment and the worst for making America prosperous.
"Even though Americans' ratings for Obama's handling of these issues have dropped sharply over the past year, they are no worse than Bush's ratings toward the end of his term."
The declines are understandable, given the high expectations for Obama when he took office and the erosion in his overall job approval rating over the past year. Last March, he averaged 62% job approval, compared to ratings in the high 40% range today. On a proportional basis, however, the declines in his ratings on the environment, energy, and prosperity eclipse those for his overall approval rating.
Gallup asked the same items about George W. Bush throughout his presidency. A comparison of Bush's year 1 vs. year 2 ratings to Obama's yields two important distinctions for Bush. First, expectations for how Bush would handle these issues were generally not as high at the outset of his presidency as they were for Obama. Second, Bush's ratings did not decline nearly as much in his second year, probably due to the rally in public support Bush enjoyed after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. Bush's first- and second-year ratings were similar on the environment and the economy, though he did drop significantly on energy.
Even though Americans' ratings for Obama's handling of these issues have dropped sharply over the past year, they are no worse than Bush's ratings toward the end of his term. In his second term in office, from 2005 to 2008, Bush averaged 33% "good job" ratings on the environment, 27% on energy, and 39% on the economy.
Obama's current ratings are predictably much more positive among Democrats than among Republicans, with the largest difference of opinion (60 percentage points) in ratings of the job he is doing on the economy.
After more than a year in office, a slim majority of Americans say President Obama is doing a good job on the environment, and less than half say so about his handling of the economy and energy -- marking declines from the large majorities of Americans who a year ago predicted he would do a good job.
Results are based on telephone interviews with a random sample of 1,014 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted March 4-7, 2010. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 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.