Muslims Give Obama Highest Job Approval; Mormons, Lowest

by Frank Newport

Jews and those with no religious affiliation also give Obama above-average ratings

PRINCETON, NJ -- Muslim Americans continue to give President Barack Obama the highest job approval rating of any major religious group in the U.S., while Mormons give the president the lowest ratings.

Obama Job Approval by Religious Group, First Half and Second Half of 2009, and First Seven Months of 2010

The differences in Obama's approval ratings across the religious groups included in this analysis have held fairly constant across time, even as Obama's overall rating has fallen by 15 percentage points between the first half of 2009 and the first seven months of this year. American Muslims -- in the news recently with the controversy over proposed plans to build an Islamic center and mosque near ground zero in New York City -- have given Obama his highest ratings in all three time periods: 86% in the first half of 2009, 83% in the second half of 2009, and 78% so far this year. Mormons have given Obama his lowest ratings across time, dropping from 43% in the first half of 2009 to 24% this year.

In addition to Muslims, Obama receives above-average ratings among Jews, those who identify with other non-Christian religious groups, and those with no formal religious identity. Obama gets lower-than-average ratings among Protestants. Catholics have given Obama slightly higher-than-average ratings last year and so far this year.

Obama has lost slightly more ground than average so far among Mormons, and has lost the least among Muslims.

These findings are based on interviews with more than 275,000 adult Americans conducted as part of Gallup Daily tracking from Jan. 21, 2009, through July 31, 2010. Protestants and other non-Catholic/unaffiliated Christians are by far the largest religious group in America, representing about 55% of the adult population, followed by Catholics, at roughly 22%. About 13% of Americans do not have a formal religious identity or are explicitly atheists or agnostics. Jews, Mormons, and Muslims each represent no more than 2% of U.S. adults interviewed in Gallup's tracking.

Bottom Line

President Obama's job approval ratings have fallen significantly between his first six months in office and this year so far, and his ratings among major religious groups have fallen in rough lock step. The pattern that pertained when Obama first took office -- high ratings among Muslims, those with no religious identity, those identifying with non-Christian religions, and Jews; and lower ratings among Protestants and Mormons -- continues today. Although his standing has dropped among Americans in each of these groups, Obama has retained a little more strength among Muslims, the group giving him the highest ratings, and has lost a little more among Mormons, the group giving him the lowest ratings.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of Gallup Daily tracking Jan. 21, 2009-July 31, 2010, with a combined random sample of 276,173 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, selected using random-digit-dial sampling. Interviews were conducted with 151,912 Protestants/Other Christians, 65,244 Catholics, 4,672 Mormons, 6,746 Jews, 909 Muslims, 5,996 who identify with other, non-Christian religions, and 33,273 with no religious identity/atheists/agnostics.

For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±1 percentage point. Margins of error will vary for each individual religious group, depending on sample size.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each daily sample includes a minimum quota of 150 cell phone respondents and 850 landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas among landline respondents for gender within region. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.

Samples are weighted by gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, adults in the household, cell phone-only status, cell phone-mostly status, and phone lines. Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2009 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older non-institutionalized population living in U.S. telephone households. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting and sample design.

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.

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