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Behind the Numbers
Posted at 12:00 PM ET, 06/08/2011

Poll: Rating President Obama, the good, the bad and the ugly

“He is honest with the country in terms of what needs to be done.”

“He understands the working class.”

“Helping people suffering from natural disasters.”

Or a different perspective:

“He doesn’t stand up for the people.”

“He hasn’t helped with the real estate crisis.”

Or, quite simply, “gas prices.”

When asked what President Obama has done especially well and particularly poorly, a random snapshot of the American public offered some colorful responses in the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll.


Leading the way on the positive side, 29 percent say finding and killing Osama bin Laden is one thing the president has done especially well recently. No other particular achievement, however, adds up to more than 10 percent. Some 7 percent mention his work on the economy as a good thing. The same number cites positive personal attributes; 6 percent cite international issues; and 5 cite percent health care. Fully 16 percent had nothing positive to say.

The poor ratings show up over the place, too, but 18 percent cite the economy as the single poorest showing for the president. That’s born out in other findings in the new poll, where a record 59 percent of all Americans disapprove of the president’s handling of the economy.

Several other economy-related items pop up on the list of negatives: Eight percent cite international items as a negative; 7 percent say so about government spending and the deficit; and 5 percent about jobs and employment, specifically.

For those who had both positive and negative things to say, 56 percent say Obama’s poor performance resonates more. Forty percent say that what the president has done well is more resonant. That’s a more negative tilt than Obama’s overall approval rating in the poll: Among all Americans, 47 percent approve of the job he’s doing as president; 49 percent disapprove.

As noted, mention of Obama’s international work cuts both ways. A Wisconsin man interviewed for the poll was unhappy with Obama “apologizing for being an American outside of America.” And a complaint from a woman in Michigan spans international and economic concerns because Obama is “giving money to other countries when we need it ourselves.”

But almost as many have positive things to say about the president’s performance abroad. Beyond citing Obama’s good work on international relations a woman from Mississippi had some royal praise: “His retinue when he went to England was better than the Queen.”

Among the smattering of praise, Obama’s communication skills came up. Several people mentioned his speech-making including the memorial service for the victims of the shooting in Arizona that wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and killed six people. A man from Florida was more specific about Obama’s public addresses, moving beyond rhetoric to the president’s fine diction: “He speaks in complete sentences, and he is an excellent communicator.”

Several of the compliments could be considered backhanded. A handful of people said the president’s vacation plans and recreation activities are among the things he’s done particularly well recently. Two people named Obama’s basketball-playing abilities; one person named his golf game.

By  |  12:00 PM ET, 06/08/2011

Categories:  Barack Obama, Presidential Approval

 
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