A Cooperative Project of The University of Rochester, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, & George Washington University


W elcome to the U.S. Officials' Job Approval Ratings (JARs) website, a unique depository for job approval ratings obtained at the state level for state Governors, U.S. Senators and U.S. Presidents from the mid-1900s to today (short a few months for us to compile the data).  Funded in part by a National Science Foundation grant, the research project is administered by Richard Niemi of the University of Rochester in partnership with Thad Beyle at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Lee Sigelman at George Washington University.  While the project is currently ongoing, the data available today represent a substantial portion of surveys conducted during the last 40 to 50 years on a multitude of questions pertaining to satisfaction of the American electorate with their political representatives.  As new data become available, we will post updates to this site…so stay tuned.  

       Prior to downloading data, please take a few moments to read our remarks on question type and rating scales , downloading job approval ratings , and treatment of missing or incomplete data in order to ensure that you are able to take full advantage of the information provided.

Databases, Updates and Codebook:
 State Governors 1958-2009 Database (Excel format) (updated 3/29/10)

  Note:  State Governors includes California Governor Davis recall support poll results.

 U.S. Senators 1978-2009 Database (Excel format) (updated 3/29/10) 

 U.S. Presidents 1945-2009 Database (Excel format) (updated 3/29/10) 

 Codebook on Web (updated 06/16/04)
 Codebook in Microsoft Word format (updated 3/29/10) 

University of Rochester, Department of Political Science 

George Washington University, Department of Political Science 

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Department of Political Science

Site maintained by:
Patrick Wohlfarth, pcwohlf@email.unc.edu
For more information, please contact Prof. Thad Beyle at beyle@email.unc.edu.

Graphics courtesy of www.worldatlas.com
Last updated March 2010.

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Question Type and Rating Scales
As you will find in the codebook, the survey results represent a variety of questions asked of respondents regarding their assessments of officials.  With the exception of the Senator data, for which question type was limited to one, questions varied from general job performance assessments to assessments of the official's attention to one or more key policy areas.  For this reason, two or more records may be identical except for the question type codes.  In addition, rating scales vary.  Possible responses will range from "good, very good, fair, poor" to "approve, disapprove," and so forth.  To make aggregation of the results possible, all responses have been collapsed into "percent positive" and "percent negative."  A "/" indicates the division for positive and negative totals.  Listings for these and remaining fields are provided in the codebook.

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Downloading Job Approval Ratings
Before downloading JARs on this site, please note the following.  Databases have been composed in Microsoft Excel, versions 97 forward, and are transferable into statistical applications such as SPSS, STATA, and SAS.  For ease of data manipulation, codes for all three primary databases are consistent with each other--hence, a single codebook for gubernatorial, senatorial and presidential data.  Upon opening the Excel files, you may encounter ##### in one or more of the spreadsheet cells.  If this occurs, it normally means that the column width is not great enough to show the full cell entry.  To widen the column, place your cursor at the top of the column, left click, and "drag" the edge of the column to the appropriate width.  For more help with Excel, please refer to the Help window in the Excel software application.
    In addition, please note that the "date into field" (DATEIN) column in all datasets is accompanied by 3 separate columns for day (DAYIN), month (MONTHIN), and year (YEARIN); this is true likewise for the "date out of field" (DATEOUT) columns.  Some statistical applications "prefer" the 3-column split over the full date style (i.e. 03/34/79).  Please be sure to check for proper translation of dates when you open the datasets in the statistical application you choose.

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Treatment of Missing or Incomplete Data
As we continue to improve this resource, our goal is to keep missing data to a minimum.  However, in some cases full information pertaining to a given survey is not available.  Where information is lacking in a record, the cell will be empty.  This should translate appropriately into the statistical application.  Please also note that for some records the exact date of the survey in question is incomplete.  Where this occurs, the expansion of the date code into three separate variables for day, month, and year operates as follows:

Information available (example)           Recorded as
Year (1983) and Month (April)                4    1983
Year (1983)                                                1983

I.e., when there is just a month and year, it records the date as the first of the relevant month and year.  Note that the original variable--DATEIN--does not change; it remains a month and year or just a year.  When using the data, please note that column-scale changes in the format of the dates will compromise the integrity of the data due to automatic adjustments made by the Excel software to compensate for "missing" information.  For example, where the date is given as Mar-79, a format change for the entire column could result in the date "permanently" reading as 03/01/79, thereby losing the original information noting that the exact date of the survey is not known.  It is recommended that any changes to the format of dates be made per cell(s) in order to avoid making unwanted changes.

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