A recent poll of NC State Students shows that a majority disapproves of Barack Obama’s job as president. When asked, “Do you approve or disapprove of the way Barack Obama is handling his job as President?,” 41% approved while 59% disapproved. Compared to a Gallup Poll conducted around the same time, the results are similar. Gallup found that 41% of Americans approved of his job performance, while 53% disapproved.
Looking back at last year’s PackPoll, it is also clear that approval of Obama’s job has declined. Last Spring, approval and disapproval were evenly split (50% to 50%).
Obama’s approval ratings, though, are also affected by the question-answer format. In this most recent survey, we used a “split ballot” technique, where roughly half of respondents were randomly assigned to one of two slightly different versions of the question. The only difference between the questions was that one version did not provide students with the option to say they had, “no opinion.” Interestingly, eliminating the “no opinion” option increases Obama’s net approval rating. When the no opinion option is removed, Obama’s approval increased from 28% to 41% (+13%), while disapproval only increased from 49% to 58% (+9).
Digging deeper, whether someone approved of Obama’s job thus far, was highly dependent on party identification. Almost all self-identified Republicans (96%) disapproved of Obama’s job as president. Conversely, 90% of Democrats approved of the way Obama has handled his job as president. This partisanship effect is consistent with the majority of research on the subject.
Direction of the United States and NC State
The poll also included two questions of particular relevance to this subject. The first question gauged whether or not students believed that the United States was generally headed in the right direction or wrong direction. Just 32% of students said that things were headed in the right direction.
The second question asked whether or not students believed NC State was generally headed in the right direction or wrong direction. In this case, 85% believed that things here at NC State are headed in the right direction. In past polls, students have made this same distinction, saying that the direction of the country is headed in the wrong direction, but that things on campus are headed in the right direction.
Further analysis of the data again revealed the importance of partisanship for political perceptions. Nine of ten Republicans (90%) said that the United States was headed in the wrong direction. On the other hand, 59% of Democrats believed that the United States was headed in the right direction.
The PackPoll is a representative survey of NCSU 1,032 undergraduates. The survey was conducted over the internet using email to sample students between Nov 7-12, 2013. The response rate 23%, and the margin of sampling error is +/-2.97%.