April 5, 2016

Millennials give Obama a boost as his job rating rebounds

Generation gap in Obama job approval among the widest of his presidencyDuring much of Barack Obama’s presidency, Millennials have been some of his strongest supporters, rating his job performance much more positively than those in older generations. And today — with Obama’s overall approval rating at 51%, the highest in nearly three years – the generation gap in approval is among the widest since he took office in 2009.

About six-in-ten (62%) Millennials (adults born after 1980) approve of the job Obama is doing. By comparison, half of Generation Xers (born 1965-1980), 43% of Boomers (born 1946-1964) and just 37% of Silents (born 1928-1945) offer positive ratings of the president’s job performance.

There has been a generation gap – the difference between the youngest group, Millennials, and the oldest, Silents – in ratings of Obama for much of the last seven years. But the gap has fluctuated widely over this period. Throughout much of 2014, Obama’s approval ratings among Millennials hovered near 50%, compared with the roughly 35% of Silents who approved of Obama. Over the past year, Obama’s ratings among Millennials have risen, while the ratings of older generations (particularly Boomers and Silents) are little changed.

Postgrads most likely to approve of ObamaWhen it comes to education level, the president enjoys substantially more support from those with college degrees, and particularly those with postgraduate degrees. Today, 62% of those with postgraduate degrees approve of his job performance, along with 54% of those with bachelor’s degrees. Among adults with some college experience but no degree, 47% approve, as do 49% of those with no more than a high school degree.

Majorities of blacks, Hispanics approve of ObamaAs has been the case throughout Obama’s presidency, blacks are overwhelmingly positive of his job performance: Currently, 91% approve of his handling of his job as president. Similarly, the president garners positive ratings among Hispanics. Today, 65% of Hispanics approve of his job performance.

However, whites continue to be more likely to disapprove (56%) than approve (38%) of the president’s performance, as they have been throughout most of his presidency.

As in the past, Democrats continue to overwhelming approve of Obama, with fully 85% saying they approve of the way he is handling his job as president in the most recent survey. Conversely, Republicans rate Obama much more negatively. Just 11% say they approve of the president, while 85% say they disapprove. Democratic approval of Obama is as high as it has ever been, while Republican approval is as low as it has been over the last seven years. About half of political independents (48%) say they approve of the president.

How Obama’s approval rating compares with those of recent presidentsObama’s overall job approval rating stands at 51%, while 44% disapprove. His current job rating places him just below Bill Clinton’s (57% approved) in March of his final year in office, and is nearly identical to Ronald Reagan’s at a similar point in his presidency (50%). Clinton finished his presidency with an approval rating of 61%, while Reagan rallied in his final year to finish at 63%.

In March 2008, just 28% approved of George W. Bush’s job performance, while 63% disapproved. Bush finished his presidency with an approval rating of 24%. (For more on job ratings of past presidents, see “Presidential job approval ratings from Ike to Obama.)

Topics: Barack Obama, Generations and Age, U.S. Political Figures, Presidential Approval

  1. Photo of Samantha Smith

    is a research assistant focusing on U.S. politics and policy at Pew Research Center.


  1. Sharon Hendrickson1 year ago

    My statistics professor always said:
    “There’s lies, damn lies, and statistics.” All this Pew Research Center is doing is handpicking from a liberal garden spot to come up with this ridiculous figure. Those of us who have the ability to still critically think… know that this man is a communist who cares about one thing only, himself and the party agenda.


  2. Anonymous1 year ago

    Compared to whom? Ironic if Clinton, WJ!

  3. Anonymous1 year ago

    Sadly, many voters don’t have a clue about the significance or size of our National Debt. They will probably blame some future president for hardships that were actually caused by the irresponsible borrowing of this administration.

    1. Anonymous1 year ago

      Assume you mean the CC debt accumulated under Bush 43 for the Iraq war?

      1. Anonymous1 year ago

        That’s part of it! Then the nitwits in Congress took it to a new level after that.

    2. Ryan Kenneth Leddy1 year ago

      Obama inherited a deficit of $1.4 trillion/10% GDP. Spending was up near 25% GDP and revenues were not even at 15%.

      Today, the deficit has fallen by $1 trillion to under 3% GDP/$425 billion.

      If we want to start running surpluses then it’s going to take tax increases since we know Republicans will never agree to cutting defense spending and today Non-defense discretionary spending is at its lowest levels of all time. For the past forty years it averaged 3.3% GDP. It fluctuated between 3% and 5%. Today, it’s barely above 2%. So, we could cut every single bit of it and still run a slight deficit.

      The forty year average for spending is 21% and revenues at 18.2% GDP.

      Any party that tries to cut social security or Medicare is signing their death certificate. We could save massive amounts of money by doing what every other modern nation does by negoating out set prices for what Medicare pays for prescription drugs and medical procedures. The average cost for a CT scan here is $900 compared to $97 in Canada. Why does bypass surgery here cost $77,000 and only $15,000 in the Netherlands or $40,000 in Australia? Why does the prescription drug Nexium cost $300 for a 30 day supply here but only $30 in Canada? Why does the anti-anxiety drug Valium cost $49 here yet $9 in Canada or $3 in the U.K.? Why is the average cost of a physician visit here $95 yet only $30 in France and Canada? Oh, because capitalism, that’s why! Because they can, that’s why.

      Republicans don’t want to dare mess with the profits of big pharma or the private health insurance industry. They don’t want to cut defense spending, instead they want to increase it. They don’t want to increase taxes-they want to slash them. The only time they care about the debt/deficit is when a Democrat is President.

      The last three Democratic Presidents in Obama, Clinton, and Carter increased the size of the federal debt by a combined 145%.

      The last three Republican Presidents in Reagan, Bush 41, and Bush 43 increased the size of the federal debt by combined 334%!!! Reagan increased it by 189% alone. Bush 43 by nearly 100%….Not to mention Bush Era policies like going to war twice and a completely unfunded expansion of Medicare in Part D that were “paid for” by massive tax cuts that disproportionately favored the rich are responsible for 90% of the debt added under Obama.

  4. Anonymous1 year ago

    Sadly, many voters don’t have a clue about the significance or size of our National Debt. They will probably blame some future president for hardships levied by this administration on future generations.

  5. Anonymous1 year ago

    Belatedly, the American electorate is beginning to appreciate the current, mature occupant of the White House, in stark contrast to the juvenile, ignorant, bigoted standard bearer in the Republican primaries. The Republican debates revolved not around policy, but taunting and personal insults, leaving a bad taste in the mouths of the public. Pres. Obama looks that much better in comparison.

  6. Packard Day1 year ago

    If you do not think these past seven years under President Obama have not been some of the best money making periods in generations, then you are either 1) not paying attention, 2) you are shamelessly shilling for the Republican Party, or 3) you are obviously not living in a top 10% American household [i.e. Annual income >$160K and net worth sans primary residence >$1 million]. Is this a great country or what?

    1. Anonymous1 year ago