President Barack Obama signs executive orders on gun control measures Jan. 16, 2013, during ceremony at the White House in Washington, D.C. (Photo courtesy of the White House/P. Souza)
Majority disapproval for the job that Barack Obama is doing as president is holding steady in Tennessee despite his re-election in November 2012, according to the latest poll conducted by Middle Tennessee State University.
A 51 percent majority disapprove of the job Obama is doing while only 33 percent approve. These figures are statistically the same as the results the last time that the poll asked Tennesseans statewide about job approval for Obama in the spring of 2012.
“It is common for newly-elected presidents to receive a significant positive bump in the polls after their first election to office — even among those who did not support them, as was the case for Obama in Tennessee in 2008,” said professor Jason Reineke, associate director of the MTSU Poll.
“It is less common for re-elected presidents to receive a similar benefit of the doubt from those who were opposed to their re-election," he said, "and in this case, the election seems to have made no difference at all in how Tennesseans evaluate the current president.”
Predictably, political party affiliation was the best predictor of Obama’s presidential job approval, with 77 percent of Tennessee’s self-identified Democrats saying that they approve while 84 percent of Republicans disapprove. A majority of those who say that they are politically independent — 55 percent — disapprove of the job Obama is doing as president.
If political party affiliation — which is determined in large part by evaluations of the president — is set aside, the most important difference in presidential approval in Tennessee is attributable to race. Among whites, 59 percent disapprove while only 26 percent approve, and the rest say they don’t know or refuse to answer the question. Among African-Americans in Tennessee, 87 percent say they approve of the job Obama is doing as president while only 3 percent say that they disapprove.
Congress fairs worse
However, the U.S. Congress receives an even worse evaluation from Tennesseans. Fully 70 percent of Tennesseans say that they disapprove of the way that the U.S. Congress is handling its job while only 14 percent approve.
“Tennesseans express an overwhelming disapproval for the U.S. Congress, by a margin of 5-to-1 over those who say that they approve,” Reineke said. “Furthermore, this disapproval exists across the board — among men and women, blacks and whites, Democrats, Republicans, and Independents — far more disapprove of how Congress is handling its duties than approve.”
Tennessee’s own U.S. senators, however, fare much better than Congress as a whole.
A majority of Tennesseans, 54 percent, approve of how the state’s senior U.S. senator, Lamar Alexander, is handling his job while only 20 percent disapprove.
Similarly, 57 percent approve of the job that the state’s recently re-elected junior senator, Bob Corker, is doing, while only 18 percent disapprove. The rest don’t know or refuse to answer the questions.
Even pluralities of self-identified Democrats, 48 percent for both Alexander and Corker, approve of the job that the state’s U.S. senators are doing. Broad majorities of Republicans and independents also approve of the senators’ work.
“It’s a classic contrast in American politics — even when the people give Congress as a whole abysmal marks, they tend to say that their own state’s senators and representatives are doing a good job,” Reineke said.
Poll data were collected from Feb. 11-19 via telephone interviews of 650 Tennessee adults conducted by Issues and Answers Network Inc. using balanced, random samples of Tennessee landline and cell phones. The data were weighted to match the latest available Census estimates of gender and race proportions in Tennessee.