CIRCLE (The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement)
conducts research on the civic and political engagement of young Americans.
The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement

President Obama’s Job Approval Ratings by Age and Race

April 25th, 2012
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President Obama’s job approval ratings have fluctuated since the beginning of his term, particularly after significant legislation and events. has an interactive tool that allows you to see the trends using data gathered weekly by the organization.

Because CIRCLE focuses on youth, we decided to see how Obama’s youth approval rating differed from the approval of other age groups after specific, significant events:

  • The passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, also known as the Stimulus (2/17/2009),
  • The passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Healthcare Reform (3/23/2010),
  • The passage of the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (7/21/2010),
  • The passage of the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Repeal Act (12/22/2010),
  • The death of Osama bin Laden (5/1/2011), and
  • 2012’s most recent polling (4/22/2012)

The approval ratings in the graphs below reflect data during the week that each particular event took place. If the event occurred on the last day of the week-long poll, the next week’s data was used.

Overall, the youth approval ratings are consistently much higher than the other two age groups’ approval. Youth also seem to be less affected by major events: their approval rating stayed between 57% and 61% over a long period. The 30-49 year old and 50-64 year old groups were within a few points of each other after all the specific events, with the exception of the DADT Repeal Act, when there was a five-point difference. The most recent polling, with no specific event, showed a six-point difference between the two groups.

When we use the same dates but look at approval ratings by race (inclusive for all ages), the differences are startling. The Black approval rating is extremely high across the board. Conversely, the White approval ratings are at least 35 points lower than the Black approval ratings, and are consistently low. The Hispanic approval ratings show the greatest degree of change across time.

-Whitney Henderson

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