Politics

Obama Approval Sinks to New Lows Among Whites, Hispanics

by Lydia Saad

Blacks' support remains high, but at 84% ties record for monthly low

PRINCETON, NJ -- President Barack Obama earned the lowest monthly job approval rating of his presidency to date in August, with 41% of U.S. adults approving of his overall job performance, down from 44% in July. He also received term-low monthly job approval ratings from both Hispanics (48%) and whites (33%) and tied his lowest rating from blacks (84%).

President Barack Obama Job Approval by Race

The latest results are based on Gallup Daily tracking throughout August and include telephone interviews with more than 12,000 whites, 1,100 blacks, and nearly 1,200 Hispanics.

Whites' approval of Obama has trended downward thus far in 2011 after showing little change in 2010. Whites' largest drop in support for the president within a calendar year -- 17 percentage points -- came in 2009, declining from 58% in February, the first full month of Obama's presidency, to 41% by December.

Blacks have remained solidly approving of Obama throughout his presidency; however, 2011 is the first year this group's monthly job approval has routinely registered below 90%, indicating a decline in blacks' support, albeit a fairly minor one.

The president's current standing with Hispanics reflects a rather steep decline since January, when 60% approved of him. This follows Hispanics' less-pronounced drops in their support in each of the first two years of his presidency. As a result, the gap between blacks and whites in Obama's job approval has been widening while the gap between Hispanics' and whites' approval has been narrowing.

Although Hispanics' monthly approval of Obama dipped below 50% for the first time in August, more still approve than disapprove (48% vs. 37%) of his job performance. A relatively high 15% -- typical for Hispanics -- has no opinion.

Hispanics' Approval of Obama Now Close to National Average

The gradual shift in Hispanics' job approval of Obama toward whites' level of job approval is also seen in the accompanying graph showing the differences between Obama's job approval rating, nationally, and his ratings from each racial group, on a monthly basis since February 2009.

While blacks and Hispanics both expressed significantly higher-than-average approval for Obama throughout 2009 and most of 2010, Hispanics' approval has been moving progressively closer to the national average and is now only single digits above it. Whites' approval has consistently remained about eight points below the national average. As a result, blacks have become an extreme outlier -- the only major racial group showing well-above-average approval.

Gap Between Racial Groups' Approval of President Obama and National Average

Bottom Line

Despite launching his presidency with a large majority of Hispanics approving of his job performance, along with most blacks, Obama has seen significant erosion in Hispanics' support. As a result, while Hispanics' approval of Obama was at one time 20 points higher than the national average, at this time it is just 7 points higher. Two significant slips in Hispanics' approval of Obama were seen in 2010, perhaps linked with the president hedging on campaign promises to make immigration reform a priority. However, that decline has continued into 2011 as the nation's focus has turned more to the economy and federal budget problems.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of Gallup Daily tracking Aug. 1-31, 2011, with a random sample of 15,343 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 maximum margin of sampling error is ±1 percentage point.

For results based on the sample of 12,254 whites, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±1 percentage points. For results based on the samples of 1,137 blacks and 1,183 Hispanics, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum 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 includes a minimum quota of 400 cell phone respondents and 600 landline respondents per 1,000 national adults, with additional minimum quotas among landline respondents for gender within region. Landline telephone numbers are chosen at random among listed telephone numbers. Cell phones 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 by gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, adults in the household, and phone status (cell phone-only/landline only/both, cell phone mostly, and having an unlisted landline number). 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.

The questions reported here were asked of a random half-sample of respondents for 30 nights in August on the Gallup Daily tracking survey.

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 http://www.gallup.com/.

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