Month: October 2013

U.S. Business Owners’ Approval of Obama Remains Low

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Thirty-seven percent approval ranks among lowest by job category

by Jeffrey M. Jones

PRINCETON, NJ — In an era of much uncertainty for business owners — tied to the healthcare law, government shutdown, and debt ceiling debate — 37% approve of the job Barack Obama is doing as president, eight percentage points lower than among all U.S. workers. Business owners have consistently given the president lower approval ratings, averaging 10 points lower than all workers since 2009.

President Obama Job Approval Ratings Among Business Owners and All U.S. Workers, Quarterly Averages

The Obama administration in July issued a one-year delay in the requirement that business owners offer health insurance to all their employees. That requirement is now scheduled to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2015. However, the healthcare law is still contributing to business owners’ uncertainty as they attempt to clarify how it affects their businesses specifically. Republican efforts to defund or delay the law are also at the core of the current government shutdown. Additionally, the looming debt ceiling crisis could have significant repercussions for the economy, which makes it harder for business owners to plan for the future.

Business owners’ consistently lower approval ratings may reflect disagreements with Obama’s policies specifically. But they also reflect the group’s generally strong Republican leanings — 49% identify as Republicans or lean Republican, while 36% identify as Democrats or lean Democratic.

On a relative basis, business owners’ 37% presidential approval rating ranks near the bottom compared with workers in other categories. Installers or repair workers (35%) and farmers, fishermen, or forestry workers (34%) have similarly low approval ratings. Professional workers (49%) and service workers (49%) are the most approving groups.

The rank order of professions has been fairly consistent over time. Service workers or professional workers have had the highest approval ratings of Obama in each quarter. The bottom spot has been held at various times by business owners, installation or repair workers, or farmers, fishermen, or forestry workers.

Highest and Lowest Approval Ratings of President Obama by Job Category, 2009-2013

These results suggest that the rank order of workers is fairly consistent over time. When the president’s overall approval rating increases or decreases, all groups generally move up or down rather than one group or several driving the change.


Business owners have consistently been one of the least approving categories of U.S. workers, in terms of the job Obama is doing as president. Gallup has been able to analyze presidential approval by job category only during the Obama presidency, so it is unclear if business owners’ low approval ratings reflect their views of him and his policies specifically, or a more negative orientation toward Democratic politicians and policies in general.

The healthcare law and its requirement that most employers offer their employees health insurance or pay fines is one of the more sweeping government regulations affecting businesses in decades. While the requirement’s full impact on businesses will not be known until after it goes into effect more than a year from now, government officials, business owners, and health insurance providers are trying to learn and clarify how the law will affect individual businesses.

Given Obama’s close association with the healthcare law, it is likely that its impact will go a long way in determining how business owners evaluate the president during the remainder of his presidency, probably more so than will be the case for any other group of workers.


U.S. Business Owners’ Approval of Obama Remains Low.