Obama job approval unchanged, views of economy improve

Olivier Knox
The Ticket

President Barack Obama's job approval rating slipped slightly to 49 percent in June despite controversies over National Security Agency surveillance and the IRS targeting of conservative groups, according to a new poll from the nonpartisan Pew Research Center. Oh, and fewer Americans are using the word "socialist" now than in early 2009 as a one-word description for Obama, Pew found.

Obama's job approval was 51 percent in May, Pew said. And the proportion of Americans disapproving of the job he's doing stayed steady at 43 percent in both May and June.

While just 11 percent of Americans in 2012 said the economy was in excellent or good shape, that number has surged to 23 percent—the highest level since January 2008, Pew found. Thirty-five percent say the economy will get better one year from now, against 19 percent who say things will be worse. In March, more respondents said it would be worse (32 percent) than better (25 percent).

Still, 64 percent of respondents said jobs are difficult to find in their communities, against 29 percent who said there were plenty of opportunities.

Obama's handling of the economy was still underwater: 44 percent approved, against 50 disapproving. Americans are split 35 percent-35 percent on whether his policies have made things better, while 27 percent say they've had no effect.

Pew has kept track of one-word descriptions for the president. In April 2009, the top five were, in descending order: "Intelligent," "good," "socialist," "liberal," "great." In September 2012, they were "good/good man," "trying/tried/tries," "president," "failed/failure" and "incompetent," with "socialist" in the 11th slot. In June 2013, the top terms were "good/good man," "incompetent," "honest," "liar" and "excellent," with "socialist" in the 8th slot. No word on what percentage accurately recall the definition of "socialist."

Obama's approval ratings on his handling of terrorism and his approach to civil liberties capture the American public's own mixed message on government surveillance. Fifty-six percent approve of his handling of terrorism, against 35 percent disapproving. When it comes to civil liberties, though, 42 percent approve while 51 percent disapprove.

Overall, the poll had an error margin of 2.9 percentage points.