Ten Key Data Points from the March 2014 NBC-WSJ Survey

The NBC-WSJ March 2014 survey is out and can be found here. Below are ten key findings from the data.

  1. The public mood remains negative. Public pessimism about the direction of the country is frozen in place in the Mid 60’s (26{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} Right Direction – 65{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} Wrong Track) and just 26{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} say the economy will be better in the next year while 57{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} of Americans believe we are in a recession.
  2.  Overall opinions of Obama are sliding to historic lows.  Obama’s job approval has hit an historic lows among all Americans (41{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} approve – 54{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} disapprove), and is especially low among men, Midwesterners, White working class, and whites with less than a college degree. Overall disapproval is the highest measured among Democrats (20{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}) and Independents (62{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}).
  3.  At 53{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}, disapproval in Obama’s foreign policy is the highest ever measured in an NBC-WSJ survey. With Russian aggression on display in Crimea, 41{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} of Americans approve of President Obama’s handling of foreign policy while 53{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} disapprove. That signals the first time disapproval  has crossed the 50{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} threshold in Obama’s presidency. His previous low was measured in August 2013 (41{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} approve – 49{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} disapprove) as reports of Syria’s use of chemical weapons were coming out and his highest marks on foreign policy came after the killing of Osama bin Laden in May 2011 (57{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} approval – 35{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} disapproval).
  4.  Obama’s personal favorable rating matches an all-time low of 41{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}. Slightly more Americans hold a negative opinion of President Obama (44{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}) than hold a positive opinion (41{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}) which matches the lowest positive image rating on record in NBC-WSJ, last reached in late October 2013 in the aftermath of the government shutdown.
  5.  Hillary Clinton’s image is also on a downtrend. Since April 2013, Hillary Clinton’s image has dropped from 56{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} Positive – 29{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} Negative to 44{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} Positive – 33{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} Negative.
  6.  An early check of Congressional elections shows Republicans with a slight advantage while dissatisfaction with Washington persists. Voters prefer GOP-control of Congress by a point (44{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} Republican-control – 43{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} Democrat-control), just 34{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} of respondents want to re-elect their Congressional representative while 55{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} of voters say they want to give a new person a chance and 54{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} say they would vote all Members of Congress out of office including their own. The characteristic that most voters say would make them more likely to vote for a congressional candidate is that they  “work with members of the other party and compromise to get things done,” (84{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} more likely – 4{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} less likely) while the characteristic that would make most voters less likely to vote for a congressional candidate is if they “support reductions in Social Security and Medicare benefits to address the budget deficit” (17{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} more likely – 69{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} less likely).
  7.  Interest in the 2014 election is lower compared to 2006 and 2010. Just 47{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} of voters are “highly interested” ({09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}9-10 on a scale of 1 (Not at all interested) to 10(very interested)) in the 2014 election, lower than interest recorded in January polls in the 2006 (53{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}) and 2010 (49{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}) election cycles.
  8.  But, interest is much higher among Republicans than among Democrats. Republicans today are exhibiting an intensity edge (55{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} of Republican voters are {09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}9-10) over Democrats (43{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} of Democrat voters are {09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}9-10) reflective of the trend measured throughout NBC-WSJ polling conducted in 2010.
  9.  Recent events have shifted Americans’ overall perspectives of Russia. Just 19{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} of Americans today see Russia as an ally, while than seven in ten voters (72{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}) see Russia as an adversary, the highest that number has ever been in nearly 20 years of asking the question.  Fewer Americans today see our relations with Russia as important to our national interests than did in July 1999. Though over the same time period, the perceived importance of our relations with China have increased.
  10.  Despite positive news reports, public attitudes toward the health care law are unchanged. The health care law continues to be viewed as a bad idea by 49{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} of Americans and a good idea by just 35{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}, basically unchanged since December of 2013. When asked who voters would cast a ballot for – a Republican that wants to repeal and eliminate Obamacare or a Democrat who wants to keep and fix it – voters are divided with 47{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} of voters choosing the Republican and 48{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} choosing the Democrat. Independents break 48{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} – 36{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} for the Republican.

This is your brain on, er, sugar? When asked which the most harmful substance to a person’s overall health – tobacco, alcohol, marijuana or sugar – 49{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} of adults see tobacco the MOST harmful and 24{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} say alcohol is. But, nearly twice as many adults say sugar (15{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}) than say marijuana (8{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}).  Only Seniors (65+ years old), Strong Republicans, Tea Party Supporters, and Evangelical Christians rank marijuana as more harmful than sugar.

Public Opinion Strategies