How the Public Really Feels About Obama’s Performance

There has been a lot of hyperventilating about last Tuesday’s election results in Massachusetts, with conservatives insisting that a massive repudiation of Obama and his agenda has taken place. Not so. In a Lake Research poll of voters in that election, Obama actually received a higher favorability rating than the victorious conservative candidate. And in the same poll voters said by 51-43 that Obama is taking the country in the right direction. By 52-41, they also said that “change takes time and things are beginning to move in the right direction” rather than “I am disappointed with the pace of change in this country since the 2008 election.”

Moreover, voters still recognize, despite their serious economic discontent, that current conditions are more the Bush administration’s fault than the Obama administration’s. In the latest Washington Post/ABC News poll, 67 percent assign a great deal or a good amount of blame to the Bush administration for the economic situation compared to just 36 percent who feel that way about the Obama administration’s efforts.

Indeed, consistent with the Massachusetts polling, the public generally believes either Obama’s policies have already made the country significantly better off or are beginning to move the country in the right direction. In a recent Allstate/National Journal poll, 65 percent thought either that his policies had made the country significantly better off (13 percent) or were beginning to move in that direction (52 percent), compared to 31 percent who thought his policies had made the country significantly worse off.

So take those conservative interpretations of last Tuesday’s results with a grain of salt. In fact, make that a whole cellar full.

Ruy Teixeira is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. To learn more about his public opinion analysis go to the Media and Progressive Values page and the Progressive Studies program page of our website.