Politics

No SOTU Bump for Obama, but Approval Remains Higher

by Frank Newport

Obama averaged 50% for five days before and five days after State of the Union address

PRINCETON, NJ -- Gallup Daily tracking finds no change in President Obama's job approval rating after his State of the Union address. The president's 50% average for the week ending Sunday, Jan. 30, matches the prior week's rating, which was the highest weekly average for Obama since May.

Obama Job Approval Rating, Weekly Averages, January 2009-January 2011

Those who watched or saw coverage of the president's State of the Union address on Jan. 25 generally gave it positive reviews. The speech does not, however, appear to have significantly affected Obama's job approval rating. Obama averaged 50% for the five days preceding his speech (Jan. 20-24) and 50% for the five days afterward (Jan. 26-30).

Highest Since May

Obama's job approval rating was generally in the mid-40% range in the summer and fall of 2010, including his lowest weekly average of 43% measured during two weeks in August. Approval rose to the high 40% range in December before reaching the current 50% average over the last two weeks of January.

The increase in Obama's ratings late last year and early this year was coincident with the bipartisan agreement on several pieces of legislation, including the extension of tax cuts and the repeal of the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, and Obama's well-received speech in Tucson on Jan. 12 after the shootings there on Jan. 8.

President Obama's job approval rating for the week of Jan. 24-30 was 84% among Democrats, 45% among independents, and 15% among Republicans.

Not Predictive of 2012 Election at This Point

President Obama's job approval ratings will ultimately be a good predictor of his chances for re-election in November 2012, but at this early stage -- some 21 months before the election -- they have little election forecasting validity. Ronald Reagan, for example, had a low 35% approval rating in late January 1983, yet went on to win re-election handily in 1984. On the other hand, President George H.W. Bush enjoyed a job approval rating of 83% in late January 1991 as the U.S. engaged in the first Persian Gulf War, yet he was defeated in his bid for re-election the following year.

Explore 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 the latest Gallup poll weekly average are based on telephone interviews conducted Jan. 24-30, 2011, on the Gallup Daily tracking survey, with a random sample of 3,552 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, selected using random-digit-dial sampling.

For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±2 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 daily sample includes a minimum quota of 200 cell phone respondents and 800 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 2010 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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