WASHINGTON -- "Good" and "trying" are the top two words Americans used to describe President Barack Obama, according to a poll released Wednesday by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press and the Washington Post.
Not all the words used to describe Obama were were positive -- negative opinions were equally popular. The dryly factual word "president" was named third most-often by more than 1,000 adults who were surveyed, followed by "incompetent" and "failure." Only 14 percent of people offered neutral words.
Here's a color-coded chart of responses. (The numbers represent how many people used each word, not percentages.):
The descriptions, many reflective of opinions on Obama's time in office, contrast those in a poll of voters taken in September 2008. From Pew:
Four years ago, voters’ descriptions of Barack Obama focused on his newness on the political scene. In September 2008, more voters used the word inexperienced to describe Obama than any other word, while change was the most frequently used positive term. Words like young, charismatic and new were also among the top descriptions.
Descriptions of Mitt Romney have also shifted as he's become better known to the American public. In a Pew/Washington Post poll released last week, the word most used was "honest," followed closely by "rich" and "businessman," which together dwarfed any other responses. The word "Mormon," which, along with "religion," largely defined him in a 2011 poll, rarely came up, with "flip-flopper" and "moderate" also dropped from the charts.
Vice President Joe Biden attracted more negative reviews. Although the top word used to describe him was "good," the next most-popular was "idiot," with other unflattering descriptions including "incompetent," "clown" and "buffoon." (Other finding: Five people believe that "don't like him" is one word.) Paul Ryan was seen as "conservative" and "intelligent," followed by "young" and "unknown."
The latest Pew poll surveyed 1,008 adults by phone from Aug. 31 to Sept. 3.