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Ratings of Leaders in Washington, While Still Mostly Negative Improve Slightly

February 9, 2011

NEW YORK, Feb. 9, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — A new Harris Poll finds that the ratings of some of the most prominent leaders in Washington have improved slightly. However their ratings are still mostly negative; they are just slightly less unpopular now than they were at the end of last year.

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Secretary of State Hilary Clinton continues to be by far the most popular Cabinet member and majorities still do not know enough about Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, Fed Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, Defense Secretary Bob Gates, or the new House Speaker John Boehner to have any opinions of them. However those familiar with John Boehner are up 11 points to 48%, from 37% last October and his positive ratings are up from 12% to 22%.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,566 adults surveyed online between January 17 and 24, 2011 by Harris Interactive.

Findings in this Harris Poll include:

  • While substantial majorities are familiar with most of the people covered in the survey, sizable numbers say they are not familiar enough to have any opinions about some of the most visible leaders – Secretary of State Hilary Clinton (19%), Vice-President Joe Biden (29%) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (31%);
  • More than half of all adults do not feel they are familiar enough with the following leaders to have any opinions about them: Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner (60%), Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke (55%), Defense Secretary Bob Gates (53%), and House Speaker John Boehner (52%);
  • Hilary Clinton’s ratings are now 50% positive and 31% negative, a slight improvement and her best numbers since August 2009;
  • Joe Biden’s ratings are now 33% positive and 39% negative, a significant improvement since last October and equaling his best numbers since August 2009;
  • While less than half of all adults are familiar with him, Bob Gates wins mostly positive (30%) rather than negative (18%) ratings–these are his most positive ratings since early 2009;
  • Tim Geithner continues to get more negative (26%) than positive (14%) ratings, but even these weak numbers are better than they have been in recent months;
  • Nancy Pelosi continues to have many critics. Fully 48% of adults give her negative ratings. However her numbers are a slight improvement on her ratings late last year when she was still House Speaker;
  • While most people do not have an opinion of Ben Bernanke, his critics (25%) still outnumber his admirers (20%) by a small margin; and,
  • The generic questions about the two parties in Congress continue to show that they are both almost equally unpopular–the Democrats are 47% negative and 19% positive, the Republicans are 44% negative and 20% positive. However in both cases these are not as bad as they were at the end of 2010, when both parties had negatives in the low 50s.

So What?

These modest improvements are consistent with other indicators that the national mood has improved slightly over the last couple of months. Several polls have shown modest improvements in President Obama’s ratings. Consumer confidence has improved a little, as have some of the other leading economic indicators. The stock market made gains for most of the last few months. However many of these numbers are still low by historic standards and the unemployment rate remains very high. Whether the modest uptick we have seen recently is the beginning of an upward trend or just a temporary blip remains to be seen.


                                          TABLE 1
         FAMILIARITY OF SENIOR CABINET MEMBERS, CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS AND
                                    PARTIES IN CONGRESS
            "Are you familiar enough with each of the following to have an
                                 opinion regarding them?"
    Base: All adults

                                     FAMILIAR
                                               2009             2010 2011
                  Mar April May June Aug Sept  Dec Jan Mar June Oct Jan.
                    %   %    %    %   %    %     %    %    %   %   %  %
    Secretary of
     State
     Hillary
     Clinton        85   83   83   81  82   82   82   82   81   81 81  81
    Vice
     President
     Joe Biden      70   67   69   68  71   70   72   67   72   71 72  71
    House
     Minority
     Leader Nancy
     Pelosi         68   65   66   66  67   69   71   68   69   69 72  69
    Democrats in
     Congress       66   64   64   65  68   69   67   71   68   68 67  66
    Republicans
     in Congress    62   61   59   58  63   65   64   66   67   64 64  63
    House Speaker
     John Boehner   37 N/a    37 N/a   27 N/a  N/a  N/a  N/a  N/a  37  48
    Defense
     Secretary
     Robert Gates   40   44   43   42  45   46   49   47   48   44 47  47
    Federal
     Reserve
     Chairman Ben
     Bernanke       42   43   43   41  44   48 N/a  N/a    49   45 48  45
    Treasury
     Secretary
     Tim Geithner   35   44   41   39  43   42   43   43   43   39 41  40

    Note: N/a indicates not asked; In January 2011 Nancy Pelosi became
    House Minority Leader (from House Speaker) and John Boehner became
    House Speaker (from House Minority Leader).

                                         TABLE 2
          RATINGS OF SENIOR CABINET MEMBERS, CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS AND PARTIES
                                       IN CONGRESS
          "How would you rate the overall job each of the following is doing?"
    Base: All adults
                   Positive* Excellent Pretty Negative** Only  Poor    Not
                                        Good             Fair        Familiar
                       %         %        %       %        %     %      %
    Secretary of
     State Hillary
     Clinton              50        19     32         31    20    11       19
    Vice President
     Joe Biden            33         8     24         39    20    19       29
    Defense
     Secretary
     Robert Gates         30         8     22         18    13     5       53
    House Minority
     Leader Nancy
     Pelosi               22         6     15         48    15    32       31
    House Speaker
     John Boehner         22         5     16         27    15    11       52
    Federal
     Reserve
     Chairman Ben
     Bernanke             20         5     16         25    15    10       55
    Republicans in
     Congress             20         4     15         44    24    20       37
    Democrats in
     Congress             19         5     14         47    21    26       34
    ------------         ---       ---    ---        ---   ---   ---      ---
    Treasury
     Secretary Tim
     Geithner             14         4     11         26    12    13       60
    --------------       ---       ---    ---        ---   ---   ---      ---
    *Positive = excellent or pretty good **Negative = only fair or poor;
    In January 2011 Nancy Pelosi became House Minority Leader (from
    House Speaker) and John Boehner became House Speaker (from House
    Minority Leader).

                                TABLE 3
               RATING OF VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN - TREND
    How would you rate the job Vice-President Joe Biden is doing?"
    Base: All adults
                                Positive*   Negative**  Not Familiar
     2011   Jan.         %           33           39            29
     2010   Oct.         %           26           46            28
            June         %           26           45            29
            March        %           29           44            28
            Jan.         %           28           39            33
     2009   Dec.         %           30           42            28
            Sept.        %           30           41            30
            Aug.         %           33           38            29
            June         %           30           38            32
            May          %           32           36            31
            April        %           34           32            33
            March        %           35           35            30
    *Excellent or pretty good. **Only fair or poor.  Note:  Percentages
    may not add up to 100% because of rounding.

                                 TABLE 4
          RATING OF SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY CLINTON - TREND
    How would you rate the job Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is
                                 doing?"
    Base: All adults
                               Positive*  Negative**  Not Familiar
     2011   Jan.         %          50          31            19
     2010   Oct.         %          48          32            19
            June         %          45          35            19
            March        %          48          33            19
            Jan.         %          49          33            18
     2009   Dec.         %          48          34            18
            Sept.        %          48          34            18
            Aug.         %          51          31            18
            June         %          47          34            19
            May          %          50          33            17
            April        %          51          32            17
            March        %          49          36            15
    *Excellent or pretty good. **Only fair or poor.  Note:  Percentages
    may not add up to 100% because of rounding.

                                   TABLE 5
              RATING OF DEFENSE SECRETARY ROBERT GATES - TREND
    How would you rate the job Defense Secretary Robert Gates is doing?"
    Base: All adults
                               Positive*   Negative**  Not Familiar
     2011   Jan.        %           30           18            53
     2010   Oct.        %           27           20            53
            June        %           23           20            56
            March       %           27           21            52
            Jan.        %           26           21            53
     2009   Dec.        %           28           21            51
            Sept.       %           28           18            54
            Aug.        %           28           17            55
            June        %           28           13            58
            May         %           28           15            57
            April       %           30           14            56
            March       %           27           13            60
    *Excellent or pretty good. **Only fair or poor. Note:  Percentages
    may not add up to 100% because of rounding.

                                   TABLE 6
              RATING OF TREASURY SECRETARY TIM GEITHNER - TREND
    How would you rate the job Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is doing?"
    Base: All adults
                                Positive*   Negative**  Not Familiar
     2011   Jan.         %           14           26            60
     2010   Oct.         %           12           29            59
            June         %           10           29            61
            March        %           13           30            57
            Jan.         %           14           29            57
     2009   Dec.         %           15           29            57
            Sept.        %           16           26            58
            Aug.         %           17           26            57
            June         %           15           24            61
            May          %           16           26            59
            April        %           18           26            56
            March        %           11           24            65
    *Excellent or pretty good. **Only fair or poor. Note:  Percentages
    may not add up to 100% because of rounding.

                                 TABLE 7
          RATING OF HOUSE MINORITY LEADER NANCY PELOSI - TREND
    How would you rate the job House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is
                                 doing?"
    Base: All adults
                                Positive*   Negative**  Not Familiar
     2011   Jan.        %            22           48            31
     2010   Oct.        %            19           52            28
            June        %            20           49            31
            March       %            16           52            31
            Jan.        %            18           50            32
     2009   Dec.        %            22           49            29
            Sept.       %            20           49            31
            Aug.        %            19           48            33
            June        %            18           49            34
            May         %            21           45            34
            April       %            21           44            35
            March       %            23           45            32
    *Excellent or pretty good. **Only fair or poor. Note:  Percentages
    may not add up to 100% because of rounding; until January 2011 Nancy
    Pelosi was House Speaker.

                                 TABLE 8
                 RATING OF DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS - TREND
    How would you rate the job the Democrats in Congress are doing?"
    Base: All adults
                               Positive*  Negative**  Not Familiar
     2011   Jan.         %          19          47            34
     2010   Oct.         %          16          51            33
            June         %          14          54            32
            March        %          14          54            32
            Jan.         %          17          54            29
     2009   Dec.         %          18          50            33
            Sept.        %          18          51            31
            Aug.         %          21          47            32
            June         %          21          43            35
            May          %          25          39            36
            April        %          22          42            36
            March        %          25          41            34
    *Excellent or pretty good. **Only fair or poor. Note:  Percentages
    may not add up to 100% because of rounding.

                                  TABLE 9
                 RATING OF REPUBLICANS IN CONGRESS - TREND
    How would you rate the job the Republicans in Congress are doing?"
    Base: All adults
                               Positive*  Negative**  Not Familiar
     2011   Jan.         %          20          44            37
     2010   Oct.         %          14          51            36
            June         %          11          52            36
            March        %          16          51            33
            Jan.         %          16          50            34
     2009   Dec.         %          14          50            36
            Sept.        %          11          54            35
            Aug.         %          12          52            37
            June         %          12          46            42
            May          %          14          45            41
            April        %          14          48            39
            March        %          15          47            38
    *Excellent or pretty good. **Only fair or poor.  Note:  Percentages
    may not add up to 100% because of rounding.

                                  TABLE 10
          RATING OF FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN BEN BERNANKE - TREND
    How would you rate the job Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is
                                  doing?"
    Base: All adults
                               Positive*  Negative**  Not Familiar
     2011   Jan.        %           20          25            55
     2010   Oct.        %           20          28            52
            June        %           17          29            55
            March       %           21          28            51
     2009   Sept.       %           25          23            52
            Aug.        %           20          24            56
            June        %           18          23            59
            May         %           19          24            57
            April       %           20          23            57
            March       %           14          28            58
    *Excellent or pretty good. **Only fair or poor. Note:  Percentages
    may not add up to 100% because of rounding

                                 TABLE 11
               RATING OF HOUSE SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER - TREND
    How would you rate the job House Speaker John Boehner is doing?"
    Base: All adults
                               Positive*  Negative**  Not Familiar
    2011    Jan.         %          22          27            52
    2010    Oct.         %          12          25            63
    2009    Aug.         %           8          19            73
            March        %           9          16            75
    *Excellent or pretty good. **Only fair or poor. Note:  Percentages
    may not add up to 100% because of rounding; Until January 2011 John
    Boehner was House Minority Leader.

Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between January 17 to 24, 2011 among 2,566 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words “margin of error” as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

J39369

Q1225, 1230

The Harris Poll® #18, February 9, 2011

By Humphrey Taylor, Chairman, The Harris Poll

About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is one of the world’s leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries including healthcare, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Serving clients in over 215 countries and territories through our North American, European, and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us – and our clients – stay ahead of what’s next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.


    Press Contact:
    Corporate Communications
    Harris Interactive
    212-539-9600
    press@harrisinteractive.net

SOURCE Harris Interactive


Source: newswire



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