Federal Employee Preferences: 58% Would Not Vote for President Obama

In a survey which received about 9000 responses, more than 58% of those participating said they would not vote to re-elect President Obama. There was not overwhelming support for the Republican candidates either with “none of the above” coming in second among those running for the nomination.

The 2012 presidential race is well underway. Democrats, of course, know who will be running for their party. At the moment, the news cycle focus is on the race for the Republican nomination.

This week, we asked readers several pertinent questions about their preferences. Who do they prefer to see receive the Republican nomination? And, if the race were held today, would our readers, the vast majority of whom are current or retired federal employees, vote for Barack Obama or the Republican nominee.

Many outside of government automatically assume the federal workforce is an automatic voting bloc and supports the candidates supported by federal employee unions (almost all of whom are Democrats) and that federal employees have a defined point of view on political issues. It is easy to see why this is the case. Most press releases and publicity reflects the views of the organizations who purport to speak for these 2.7 million or so federal employees who work for the executive branch of government (that figure includes the Postal Service but excludes the military).

In reality, our surveys have demonstrated over the past few years that federal employees vote very much like the rest of the American public. For example, a survey of our readers in September 2008 showed Barack Obama ahead by 7%. The final result: Obama won by 7%. While these are not scientific polls and don’t always match up with national poll results, the results do often reflect similar results to national surveys, in some instances FedSmith readers pick up on trends that have not yet been detected but show up in national polls a short time later.

This latest survey surprised us. We know that there is tremendous interest in the upcoming election. Still, we were surprised that about 9000 of our readers took the time to participate. The interest in this year’s election is obviously intense.

This poll is of particular interest as most of those who are giving their opinion ultimately work for the President of the United States. In effect, it is a chance for them to voice an opinion of how their boss is performing.

In this instance, 35.1% of those who participated identified themselves as a Republican. 30.8% identified themselves as independents and 30.7% identified themselves as a Democrat. This is fairly consistent with national trends as the number of independents are generally increasing and the number of people who consider themselves Democrats is decreasing. In December 2011, 35.4% of Americans considered themselves Republicans–a total just below the high for the year of 35.6% reached in May.

32.7% of adults now say they are Democrats down from a previous low of 33.0% in August of 2011. The number of independent voters rose to 32.0% in December 2011.

Republicans voted in favor of Mitt Romney as their favorite candidate for the Republican nomination. Democrats favored Huntsman as the Republican nominee. Independents also went for Mitt Romney although by a lower percentage than those who identified themselves as a Republican. The overall average in this survey favoring Romney is within two percentage of the national average favoring Romney as cited by Real Clear Politics. Note, however, that “none of the above” finished a close second.

Biggest Survey Surprise

Here are the overall results of the survey.

The one big surprise in the results was the overall response to this question:

If the election were held today, would you vote to re-elect Barack Obama for president?

  • Yes: 41.8%
  • No: 58.2%

In the same week this poll was taken, Gallup recorded a 42% approval rating for President Obama. Coincidentally, this is almost the exact same number of people in this survey who indicate they would not vote to re-elect President Obama. Gallup also found that 50% disapproved of the President’s job performance with about 8% undecided.

One thing is certain: Those that oppose the re-election of Barack Obama have very strong opinions. At the same time, those that favor his re-election have equally strong opinions. Based on the results of this poll and the many comments readers submitted, our next president will probably have a substantial percentage of the voting population strongly opposed to the election results.

We have included a small sample of reader comments below reflecting
these strong opinions. We have obviously not included comments that
were profane or otherwise inappropriate for publication. Also, keep in mind that the question only asked if a person would vote to re-elect Barack Obama. The results show an unhappiness with President Obama. But, when a specific opponent is selected by the Republicans to run, these results would likely change depending on events and political trends at that time.

Here are the overall results of our survey on the remaining questions:

In a Republican primary, who would be your candidate for the
nomination for president?

Mitt Romney 24.4%
Rick Santorum 11.3%
Ron Paul 9.0%
Newt Gingrich 12.1%
Rick Perry 2.4%
Jon Huntsman 13.2%
None of the above 24.2%

In your view, what is the most important issue facing America?


health care 3.3%
government spending 19.2%
national security 2.3%
economy 54.7%
government ethics and corruption 12.8%
taxes 1.6%
Other (please specify) 6.1%


The “other” responses from leaders ranged from “all of the above” (the most common “other” issue); illegal immigration, racism and some combination of the choices listed above.

How Would “Independents” Vote?

The results of the upcoming presidential election may depend on how people who consider themselves independent voters decide to vote. Here are the results in this survey of how these independent voters would vote if the election were held today:

If the election were held today, would you vote to re-elect Barack
Obama for president?


Yes, I’d vote to re-elect Obama 38.7%
No, I would vote for another candidate 61.3%


In a Republican primary, who would be your candidate for the
nomination for president?

Mitt Romney 25.1%
Rick Santorum 10.4%
Ron Paul 11.6%
Newt Gingrich 9.9%
Rick Perry 1.9%
Jon Huntsman 16.5%
None of the above 20.7%
Other 3.8%

How Would Democrats Vote?

Those who identify themselves as Democrats have different opinions.

If the election were held today, would you vote to re-elect Barack
Obama for president?


Yes, I’d vote to re-elect Obama 86.0% 2,343

No, I would vote for another candidate 14.0% 383


In a Republican primary, who would be your candidate for the
nomination for president?

Mitt Romney 15.4%
Rick Santorum 4.7%
Ron Paul 6.9%
Newt Gingrich 3.5%
Rick Perry 0.6%
Jon Huntsman 20.9%
None of the above 46.0%
Other (please specify) 2.1%


How Would Republicans Vote Today?

If the election were held today, would you vote to re-elect Barack
Obama for president?

Yes, I’d vote to re-elect Obama 6.3%
No, I would vote for another candidate 93.7%

In a Republican primary, who would be your candidate for the
nomination for president?

Mitt Romney 32.6%
Rick Santorum 17.7%
Ron Paul 7.4%
Newt Gingrich 21.7%
Rick Perry 4.6%
Jon Huntsman 4.2%
None of the above 7.7%
Other (please specify) 4.0%

Comments from Readers

Here are a few sample comments from readers regarding the upcoming election. The first few comments are from those who identified themselves as Republicans since there were more of these than from the other groups. As one might expect based on the results cited above, most Republicans are against the re-election of Barack Obama and most Democrats are in favor of his re-election. 

  • May Day!! May Day!!! The ship is sinking, all hands abandon Obama!!!
  • I don’t believe in spreading the wealth. I am capable of choosing charities on my own.
  • None of the current Republican candidates are more attractive than the
    President. Therefore, if I were voting today as the poll states, I
    would vote for the President….[i]n my view to get maximum consistency in policies a president must serve
    two terms. So on that basis, I would also vote for the President. I
    have violated this rule in the past and may do so again.
  • Even if the choice were between a dead animal and the current so-called president, I would vote for the dead animal.
  • Obama needs to go, any of the above candidates are an improvement. The gov’t needs to get rid of vast amounts of over bearing regulations, frivolous lawsuits and replace Nat’lized healthcare with unlimited options of coverage from the private sector.
  • Why would we aspire to have our government follow in the footsteps and
    tripping that have been the downfall of eastern and western Europe.
    Soon we will have a nation of people who feel entitled to be “TAKEN CARE
    OF” by the government on the dime of those who are willing to work for a
    living and pay taxes.I don’t believe in spreading the wealth.
  • I would vote for ABO — Anybody But Obama. He is an “empty suit” i.e., a
    faculty lounge lizard lacking in the requisite competence to be
    President of the United States and leader of the free world!!
  • We need our constitutional country back with less government control!
  • I am disgusted and disturbed what Obama has done and continues to do
    with our country. He continues to spend on needless/pointless projects,
    which includes the numerous vacations to Hawaii on the taxpayer $,
    obviously lies about anything he does and do, continues to blame others,
    somehow has a strong hold on the “drive-by” media, so that nothing
    “bad” is said (how amusing that if it was a Republican president, the
    media would continually find fault) and last “apologized” for America.
    He is far worse then Jimmy Carter .
  • Who needs 4 more years of his socialist agenda?
  • God help us all if Obama wins another election. I don’t think he is evil but wants the US to became a socialist nation.
  • I can only pray Mitt Romney can put God back in the White house
  • I feel the President and Congress have this nation on the wrong course
    in so many different areas. Job growth, out of control spending,
    continuing unemployment benefits…while expecting the blue collar
    working class to support all these programs while they continue to chip
    away at our salaries and benefits.
  • This president and this administration has done more to destroy the
    foundation on which this country was founded than any other entity in
    history. He is an unashamed Marxist that should be arrested as a traitor
    to this country and the constitution which he swore to uphold.
  • This is the most important election in our country’s history. There is NO hope for us if Obama is re-elected. He
    fell right in line with the political machine in Washington D.C. The
    only thing that changed is the money from the middle class to the poor
  • I’m convinced this country simply couldn’t survive another term with Barack Obama!! If he’s re-elected, Heaven help us!
  • Here are comments from readers who identified themselves as Democrats:

  • Although he has not been as forceful as hoped for, Obama provides a much
    more positive forward thinking approach toward a good future.
  • If any Republican candidates become President we are doomed as a nation 
  • Everyone
    needs to quit blaming Obama for all he walked in on as President after
    Bush messed things up with the economy. Obama has been trying like
    crazy, with no help from the Republicans, to straighten things out.
  • The lesser of two evils, I stay with the party of my family for generations. Sometimes I wonder though. 
  • The second term should be when things begin to get done.
  • Everyone forgets that Bush put the US in this mess and you expect that
    the next person should fix it in 4 years. The other thing was he voted
    in as a TOKEN simply because he has color.
    He is not a black american he is a true African American his Mother is
    white american and his father is african.
  • I feel the Republicans are holding this country hostage just for the sake to make Obama look bad!!!
  • I see no good Republican candidates. They all want to cut federal employees jobs and support the 1%.
  • President Obama inherited a “bad situation” . You can’t unravel what
    was done in 8 years in 4. It takes time! I personally think that
    because our President is a minority more pressure is placed on him.
  • I voted for him in 2008. I won’t make that mistake again…. He gives in too much!
  • I am not happy with ANY of the candidates and may not vote at all. None
    of them know what they are doing. we need to clean house completely!
    You can’t believe anything that any one of them say! Don’t get me
  • Mr. Obama has abandoned Federal Employees. Congress and the Senate have
    taken pay raises while citizens collectively suffer. Our founding
    fathers must be flipping in their graves.
  • Obama is a great president and a wonderful human being.
  • Sure wish Hillary Clinton was running against Obama.
  • Ordinarily, the way this country is heading, Obama should lose easily.
  • Obama only because the others scare the crap out of me. I don’t want to learn to goose-step.
  • Barrack will win

As we move closer to the election date, we will ask our readers for their opinion on the upcoming election. No doubt, there will be changes as the campaigns spend hundreds of millions to win the hearts and minds (or at least the votes) of American citizens.

Our thanks to all readers who took the time to vote in this survey and a special thanks to those who sent in their written opinion as well as voting in the survey.

About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47