Right Direction/Wrong Track: Critical Condition

The latest NBCWSJ survey shows that 73{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} of voters believe the country is headed off on the wrong track. With the last three surveys showing wrong track over the 70{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} mark, one can begin to lose perspective of just how negative the public mood really is today.

We are now at a point where Right Direction has slipped below 20{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} while Wrong Track is above 70{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}. This has only happened during four different periods since the inception of the NBCWSJ survey:

  • Around the government shutdown in October 2013;
  • Around the government shutdown in August 2011;
  • The beginning of the “Great Recession” starting in April and through 2008; and
  • The beginning of the Bush ‘41 recession (April-August 1992) that caused him to lose his presidency.

The historic rule of thumb is that presidential approval runs 14 to 17 points higher than Right Direction. Today, Barack Obama is at +33{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} (18{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} Right Direction / 51{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} Approval). What’s the difference?

The answer is the president’s strong approval with African Americans and Latinos even though his Right Direction numbers are trending downward.

Country Mood and Presidential Approval By Ethnicity

critical condition

The Bottom Line: The more telling number as regards to understanding President Obama’s impact on the 2016 Election is more likely to be his comparatively stable 51{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} job approval rather than the historically difficult Right Direction/Wrong Track findings.

Public Opinion Strategies