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U.S. Business Owners' Approval of Obama Remains Low

U.S. Business Owners' Approval of Obama Remains Low

Thirty-seven percent approval ranks among lowest by job category

PRINCETON, NJ -- In an era of much uncertainty for business owners -- tied to the healthcare law, government shutdown, and debt ceiling debate -- 37% approve of the job Barack Obama is doing as president, eight percentage points lower than among all U.S. workers. Business owners have consistently given the president lower approval ratings, averaging 10 points lower than all workers since 2009.

President Obama Job Approval Ratings Among Business Owners and All U.S. Workers, Quarterly Averages

The Obama administration in July issued a one-year delay in the requirement that business owners offer health insurance to all their employees. That requirement is now scheduled to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2015. However, the healthcare law is still contributing to business owners' uncertainty as they attempt to clarify how it affects their businesses specifically. Republican efforts to defund or delay the law are also at the core of the current government shutdown. Additionally, the looming debt ceiling crisis could have significant repercussions for the economy, which makes it harder for business owners to plan for the future.

Business owners' consistently lower approval ratings may reflect disagreements with Obama's policies specifically. But they also reflect the group's generally strong Republican leanings -- 49% identify as Republicans or lean Republican, while 36% identify as Democrats or lean Democratic.

On a relative basis, business owners' 37% presidential approval rating ranks near the bottom compared with workers in other categories. Installers or repair workers (35%) and farmers, fishermen, or forestry workers (34%) have similarly low approval ratings. Professional workers (49%) and service workers (49%) are the most approving groups.



The rank order of professions has been fairly consistent over time. Service workers or professional workers have had the highest approval ratings of Obama in each quarter. The bottom spot has been held at various times by business owners, installation or repair workers, or farmers, fishermen, or forestry workers.


Highest and Lowest Approval Ratings of President Obama by Job Category, 2009-2013

These results suggest that the rank order of workers is fairly consistent over time. When the president's overall approval rating increases or decreases, all groups generally move up or down rather than one group or several driving the change.


Business owners have consistently been one of the least approving categories of U.S. workers, in terms of the job Obama is doing as president. Gallup has been able to analyze presidential approval by job category only during the Obama presidency, so it is unclear if business owners' low approval ratings reflect their views of him and his policies specifically, or a more negative orientation toward Democratic politicians and policies in general.

The healthcare law and its requirement that most employers offer their employees health insurance or pay fines is one of the more sweeping government regulations affecting businesses in decades. While the requirement's full impact on businesses will not be known until after it goes into effect more than a year from now, government officials, business owners, and health insurance providers are trying to learn and clarify how the law will affect individual businesses.

Given Obama's close association with the healthcare law, it is likely that its impact will go a long way in determining how business owners evaluate the president during the remainder of his presidency, probably more so than will be the case for any other group of workers.

Explore President Obama's approval ratings in depth and compare them with those of past presidents in the Gallup Presidential Job Approval Center.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted July 1-Sept. 30, 2013, on the Gallup Daily tracking survey, with a random sample of 27,124 adults, aged 18 and older, employed full or part time, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of error is ±1 percentage point.

For results based on the total sample of 765 business owners, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of sampling error is ±4 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

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