Republicans Have yet to Repair their “Brand”

As President Obama completes his first 100 days in office, the Diageo/HotlinePoll of 800 registered voters conducted by FD from April 23 -26, 2009, finds that his job approval ratings have remained high and stable and that he is largely living up to the public’s expectations of him.

Obama’s Approval Ratings Have Remained High

Obama’s favorability ratings have remained high, with 64% of respondents saying they have a favorable opinion of him, and 31% of voters holding an unfavorable view.  His job approval ratings have also remained high and stable since his Inauguration, and reflect very similar proportions, with 62% of voters saying they approve of the way Obama is handling his job as president, and only 33% saying they disapprove.

Looking closer at Obama’s approval ratings reveals that the group of voters that is largely driving Obama’s high approval ratings are those aged 18 – 34. Obama’s approval rating is 76% among voters which fall within this age group, while it is significantly lower for those aged 35 – 55 (55%) and 55 and over (60%).

Obama’s Approval Rating among Different Age Groups


The Poll also finds that there has been a mild polarization of opinions with regards to how voters are saying Obama is handling his job as president.  Among Democrats, Obama’s approval rating has experienced a 16 percentage point jump from the January Poll (76%) to today’s Poll (92%).  Conversely, his approval rating has decreased by 11 percentage points among Republicans from the January poll (42%) to the April Poll (31%).

Obama’s Ratings on Specific Issues

The Poll also finds that Obama’s approval ratings on most issues are high, with the “War in Afghanistan” (64%), “War in Iraq” (61%) and “energy” (59%) leading the way.  Obama’s approval rating on “the economy,” which 69% of voters say is the most important issue facing the country, is also high, at 56%.

While 58% of voters say that Obama has focused “the right amount” on “the economy” thus far, 42% also say that “the economy” is the one issue they would like to see President Obama spend more time focusing on for the rest of 2009.  The top issue that voters feel Obama is paying too little attention to is “immigration,” at 52%, followed by “terror” (44%).

Obama is Realizing Expectations

The first 100 days of every new president are scrutinized and measured with the expectations of the public.  Confidence in Obama to bring “real change to the way things are done in Washington, DC” is still very high (65%).  While this confidence level in Obama to bring change has decreased by 10 percentage points since the January Poll, it nonetheless indicates that expectations of him are still somewhat high.

The Diageo/Hotline Poll finds that President Obama is largely living up to expectations, with 60% of voters saying that he is doing the kind of job they expected him to, based on their expectations of him before he took office as president.  Voters are evenly split between saying that he is doing a better job than expected (19%) and a worse job (18%).

Voters were also asked to evaluate how they think Obama has performed compared to other recent past presidents. The majority of respondents (55%) say that he has done a “better job compared to past presidents, 24% say he has done a “worse job,” and 15% say Obama has fared about “the same as” his predecessors.

Congress and Congressional “Brands”

Even though the generic congressional ballot between Republicans and Democrats is tightening, congressional Democrats, in general, are perceived more positively than their Republican counterparts.  Most voters still say that they would vote for the Democratic candidate if elections for U.S. Congress were tomorrow (39% for Democrats, 31% for Republicans, +8 for Democrats), though the gap has narrowed 16 percentage point difference since the January Poll (46% for Democrats, 22% for Republicans, +24 for Democrats).

That said, congressional Democrats’ approval rating stands at 44%, compared with only 32% for their Republican counterparts.  Further, 80% of Democrats approve of their Party’s congressional leaders, while only 54% of Republicans approve of Republicans in Congress.  Republicans have yet to completely repair the “brand” of their Party among their base, as 56% of those voting for the Republican in the generic ballot approve of the job Republicans in Congress are doing, compared with 82% of those voting for the Democrat in the generic ballot saying they approve of the job their congressional leaders are doing.

Among Independent voters, it is clear that their view of 2010 congressional elections is driven more by their opinions on President Obama than by their opinions of Democrats or Republicans in Congress.  Specifically, 56% of Independent voters who plan on voting for the Democratic candidate in the 2010 congressional election do so because they support President Obama’s agenda and policies.  Likewise, 52% of Independent voters who plan on voting Republican do so because they oppose President Obama’s policies.  “Even as President Obama continues to draw strong support from independent voters, his party has not fared as well with this key group of voters,” commented Amy Walter, Editor-in-Chief of The Hotline. “Yet, it’s also clear that independents support for congressional Democrats or Republicans is driven more by their views of Obama. For them, 2010 is a referendum on the President, not Pelosi or GOP alternatives.”