A new Gallup poll reporting presidential approval by religious group illustrates how Americans' relationship to Obama is intertwined with their religious affiliation. Popular with Muslims and other non-Christians, the president faces disapproval from Christians.
Gallup announced, "72 percent of U.S. Muslims approved of the job President Barack Obama was doing as president during the first six months of 2014, higher than any other U.S. religious group."
"In general, majorities of those in non-Christian religions — including those who do not affiliate with any religion — approved of Obama, while less than a majority of those in the three major Christian religious groups did," Gallup reported. The three Christian groups analyzed were Catholics, "Protestants/Other Christians" and Mormons.
Mormons are the most unhappy with the president's performance. Only 18 percent approved of Obama's work during the first six months of 2014.
Gallup grouped atheists with those who report no religious affiliation. These non-religious men and women gave Obama a 54 percent approval rating. The Jewish community had a similar assessment, with 55 percent of its members approving of Obama's performance during the polling period.
President Obama's approval rating within religious groups helps explain how he fares in national polls. "The United States remains a predominately Christian nation, with roughly half of Americans identifying with a Protestant religious and another quarter identifying as Catholic. Thus, the opinions of these Christian groups are by far the most influential in determining Obama's overall ratings," Gallup reported.
Gallup's Presidential Job Approval Center tracks Obama's performance in daily polls and offers weekly summaries. The latest report, using data from the week of June 30, showed that the president's approval rating was 43 percent, five points lower than his 48 percent average during the first five and a half years of his presidency.
This downturn is evident in Gallup's survey of religious communities. "The president's approval rating in every group for the past six months has dropped five to seven points from the average of his entire presidency," Politico reported.
Jeffrey Jones, the managing editor of the poll, shared key takeaways with Religion News Service. He noted that, as interesting as it is to separate respondents by religion, the main determinant of attitudes toward the president is political affiliation.2 comments on this story
"It's interesting to see that there are differences among the religious groups although they are not affected differently by what he does," Jones said to RNS.
"The overall order of religious groups' relative approval rating for Obama has not changed since his first inauguration in 2009," the article explained. "A religious group's political tilt will shape its views more than Obama's policies and actions. Mormons, for example, are overwhelmingly Republican, hence their low approval rating of the president."
Gallup's data was collected between January and June of this year through telephone interviews. A total of "552 Muslims and at least 1,700 respondents in every other religious group" were interviewed, Gallup reported.
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