Fox News Poll: Voters are feeling better about the economy, but not great

More than half of voters remain dissatisfied with the direction of the country — despite economic sentiment improving significantly since President Obama took office. That’s according to a Fox News poll released Wednesday. ;

Fifty-six percent of voters are dissatisfied with the way things are going in the country. ;While that’s still a majority, it’s a long way from 76 percent — the highest dissatisfied rating of Obama’s presidency (October 2011). ;

Some 44 percent are satisfied. ;This is the second highest level of satisfaction since Obama became president. ;The highest was 46 percent, which happened twice: just before his re-election in October 2012 and at the 100-day mark of his presidency (April 2009).

Currently, 62 percent of Democrats are satisfied with how things are going, while just 28 percent of Republicans feel that way. ;


The story is worse when voters are asked specifically about the economy. Though views are not as bad as they were at the start of Obama’s first term, they’re still pretty dreadful. ;

Just 21 percent of voters rate the economy positively (2 percent “excellent” and 19 percent “good”). ;Nearly 8 of 10 continue to rate it negatively (28 percent “poor” and 51 percent “only fair”).

These ratings are slightly worse than in January, when 25 percent rated the economy positively and 75 percent negatively.

The 28 percent who rate the economy as “poor” is the lowest of Obama’s presidency. ;On his watch, it peaked at 66 percent saying “poor” (December 2011). ;Seventy-four percent said “poor” the week before Obama took office (January 2009).

These improved sentiments help make the economy Obama’s best issue: 45 percent approve of the job he’s doing, while 52 percent disapprove. ;That’s been mostly unchanged since December. ;His worst marks on the economy came in August 2011 when just 34 percent approved and 62 percent disapproved. ;

More voters disapprove than approve of Obama on other top issues tested. ;For example, 43 percent of voters approve on health care, while 55 percent disapprove. ;And 40 percent approve of Obama on terrorism, while 53 percent disapprove.

As for Obama’s overall job performance, 42 percent of voters approve, while 53 percent disapprove. That’s down a touch from three weeks ago when it was 45-50 percent (March 29-31, 2015). ;

Currently 19 percent of voters approve of the job Congress is doing, while 75 percent disapprove. ;The 114th Congress hit its 100th day in office April 15. ;How much have things changed with Republicans in charge of both the House and the Senate? ;Not much. Two years ago, at the 100-day mark for the 113th Congress: 17 percent of voters approved, while 74 percent disapproved (April 2013).

People continue to say the economy is the most important issue for the president and Congress to work on (29 percent), although fewer feel that way now than have in the past. After the economy, voters say terrorism (14 percent), immigration (10 percent), the federal deficit (9 percent) and health care (9 percent) are the top issues. ;

Forty-nine percent put the economy at the top of the list in January 2014. ;At that time, only two percent said immigration and three percent said terrorism. ;

The poll shows a striking paradox on minimum wage. ;Over half of voters want to raise it, even though most expect doing so would eliminate jobs. ;

A 54-percent majority favors raising the minimum wage. ;Others oppose raising it (23 percent) — or go even further and say the government shouldn’t tell businesses what to pay their employees (20 percent). ;

There’s more agreement on this: raising the minimum wage will likely cause businesses to cut jobs or hire fewer workers. ;Sixty-seven percent feel that way, including 35 percent who think a wage hike is “very” likely to result in job cuts. ;

Even half of those favoring a minimum wage hike think it will likely result in job cuts (51 percent). ;

In general, a 51-percent majority subscribes to the view “the less government the better,” while 44 percent go in the opposite direction and say “government should be doing more.” ;

Men (56 percent) are more likely than women (47 percent) to prefer the less government option. ;

In addition, a 52-percent majority of voters in households earning under $50,000 annually want government to do more, while a 55-percent majority of those in higher-income households say the less government the better.

The Fox News poll is based on landline and cell phone interviews with 1,012 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide and was conducted under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R) from April 19-21, 2015. The full poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.