PRINCETON, NJ -- U.S. satisfaction suffered a setback this month, after a two-month upswing. Twenty-two percent of Americans say they are satisfied with the direction of the country, down from 28% in July and 27% in June. Three-quarters of Americans are now dissatisfied with the nation's course, up from 68% in July.
Given the decline, America's mood is now on par with the lowest readings seen since early 2012, including March of this year, when 21% were satisfied.
Democrats maintain higher satisfaction than either political independents or Republicans, a pattern seen throughout President Barack Obama's White House tenure. Nevertheless, their satisfaction fell seven percentage points this month (from 44% to 37%), consistent with the six-point drop among Republicans (from 14% to 8%), and slightly greater than the four-point drop among independents (from 25% to 21%).
Thus, satisfaction among all three party groups now approaches the low points seen since 2012, while still registering above the lows reached in mid- to late 2011. Those lows occurred after the near-crisis on Capitol Hill and Wall Street over raising the nation's debt ceiling.
No Coincident Decline in Major Economic Metrics
It appears this month's decline in satisfaction has more to do with politics than economics. Although President Obama's job approval rating is roughly the same in August as it was in July, his disapproval rating is up three percentage points, to 50%. This is based on comparing the Aug. 7-11 poll with Gallup's July 10-14 survey, when satisfaction was last measured. Underscoring the downtick in presidential approval, Gallup Daily tracking shows an even an even more pronounced decline in Obama's job rating between the two time periods.
Conversely, Gallup's Economic Confidence Index, based on Gallup Daily tracking, was slightly higher in the days spanning the August satisfaction reading, at -9, than it was spanning the July reading, at -13. Also, the Gallup Job Creation Index was essentially unchanged across the two time periods.
At 22%, U.S. satisfaction with the direction of the country is the lowest Gallup has seen since March. This follows several months when the reading reached or approached 30%. And while satisfaction has declined among all party groups since July, the reason for this is not clear. Although the economy might be an obvious culprit, Gallup's economic indicators find no change -- or even slight improvement -- in Americans' broad view of the economy and employee perceptions of job conditions where they work.
At the same time, Obama's net job approval rating has dipped somewhat since July. It thus appears that something other than the economy is causing Americans to be less pleased with the president as well as the overall direction of the country.
Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Aug. 7-11, 2013, with a random sample of 2,059 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.
Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by region. Landline and cell telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.
Samples are weighted to correct for unequal selection probability, nonresponse, and double coverage of landline and cell users in the two sampling frames. They are also weighted to match the national demographics of gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, population density, and phone status (cellphone only/landline only/both, and cellphone mostly). Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2012 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older U.S. population. Phone status targets are based on the July-December 2011 National Health Interview Survey. Population density targets are based on the 2010 census. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting.
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.
For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit www.gallup.com.