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Obama Hits New Job Approval Lows

Obama Sad Presser

Since virtually the beginning of his Presidency, Barack Obama has had problems with his job approval numbers. After soaring in the wake of the 2008 election and for a brief period after his Inauguration, the President’s approval numbers started to decline and his disapproval numbers started to steadily climb. To some degree, of course, this was something that was to be completely expected. Most every President enters office with high job approval, mostly as a reflection of good will and general optimism, and this was doubly true for President Obama, who was seen as a conscious break from the Bush Administration in both foreign and domestic policy.  Inevitably, though, those numbers start to decline as time goes on and policies are actually implemented. In President Obama’s case, this decline was exacerbated by the fact that the economy, while in recovery, was still incredibly weak for an extended period of time. Factor into that the intensity of the Republican opposition to this President, and its no surprise that, with the exception of the period immediate after the killing of Osama bin Laden and the period leading up to the 2012 elections, President Obama’s job approval numbers have been negative for the vast majority of his Presidency.

On some level, of course, President Obama doesn’t really need to worry about his job approval numbers anymore. He’s not going to be running for re-election, after all, and he’s likely to get the same kind of post-Presidential bump that other Presidents have gotten once he leaves office in January 2017. However, with the President’s party looking at fighting for control of the Senate in November, and the Administration still obviously concerned about public opinion on issues that it wishes to advance, these aren’t numbers that can be ignored either. So, there was no small degree of chatter in Washington last week when the President hit record lows in three separate polls:

At least three polls released this week showed President Obama’s favorability rating hitting new lows.

In his first term, his favorable rating held steady even as his job approval rating slipped. But that’s no longer true.

Fifty-two percent of Americans said they held an unfavorable view of Obama, according to a Gallup poll released Thursday. Forty-seven percent said they held a favorable opinion of him. The five-point net negative favorable rating is a new low for Obama in Gallup polling.

The new CNN/ORC International poll showed something nearly identical, with Obama’s favorable rating at 47 percent (a new low for Obama during his presidency in in CNN/ORC polling) and his unfavorable rating at 51 percent. A Bloomberg National poll pegged Obama’s favorability rating at 44 percent.

Looking more broadly, the RealClearPolitics Average shows Obama at roughly 54% disapproval and 42% approval, and the trend has been moving steadily in one direction for the past several months:

RCP Obama 614 One

 

When you look at the numbers for all of Obama’s Presidency, it’s clear that he’s been in the red much more than he’s been in the black:

RCP Obama 614 Two

This decline in the polls has been going on for some time. Back in April, I noted that President Obama’s approval numbers had hit a new low in one poll, although they were higher in a subsequent poll from NBC News, and that this was causing concern among Democrats looking forward to November. Since then, things seem to have only continued to go down hill and, to some extent, it’s not difficult to see. Over the past month, the news has been filled with the Veterans Administration scandal along with foreign policy crises in Ukraine and Iraq. We’ve seen more news come out about Benghazi and the IRS targeting scandal. Even the release of a Prisoner Of War, which one would think would normally inure to the benefit of the President, has not gone over well with the public thanks both the terms of the deal itself and the President’s failure to notify Congress as required by law. When combined with the other forces that have been pushing the President’s poll numbers down, it’s no surprise that recent events have had this kind of an impact on the polls.

At this point, one has to wonder if the President’s approval numbers will ever really recover during the thirty-one months remaining on his time in office. It seems unlikely that they would do so, except perhaps in some small respects. After the midterms, for example, President Obama will be well down the road to being the lame duck that every two term President eventually becomes as everyone starts focusing on the 2016 Presidential race. This will become even more true if Republicans manage to grab control of the Senate, or even if they just get close enough to be able to exercise more influence over the agenda. With that, along with all the other factors that have tended to push the President’s approval numbers down, it’s likely that the President will leave office far less popular than he was when he entered, or when he was re-elected.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. humanoid.panda says:

    Interestingly, pollster.com has much better, while by no means stellar, numbers for Obama: 44 approve, 50 dissaprove. I wonder how one explains the disrepancy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  2. Ron Beasley says:

    I think this just is a reflection of the counties over all disgust with the government. Keep in mind he is still up on congress by 30+ points.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 1

  3. superdestroyer says:

    @humanoid.panda:

    The two polls are statistically the same. They are well within the margin of errors for both polls.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  4. James Pearce says:

    has not gone over well with the public thanks both the terms of the deal itself and the President’s failure to notify Congress as required by law.

    I think the rumor mill has more to do with it than the Congressional notification issue.

    About Obama’s presidency….I’ve long suspected that Obama’s presidency will be remembered fondly, while the “Obama years” will be remembered as a dark time for our country.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  5. al-Ameda says:

    Even the release of a Prisoner Of War, which one would think would normally inure to the benefit of the President, has not gone over well with the public thanks both the terms of the deal itself and the President’s failure to notify Congress as required by law.

    Polling notwithstanding, I do not believe that failing to notify this Congress is a negative.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  6. superdestroyer says:

    @al-Ameda:

    Even if the law requires notification. How to you rationalize that the president of the U.S. who takes an oath to uphold the laws just decides to ignore one when it is inconvenient?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 12

  7. C. Clavin says:

    This is bad news for any hope he has of re-election.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 26 Thumb down 0

  8. Randy Spencer says:

    Mataconis completely blew a chance to blame the poll numbers on racism. He’s not doing his job.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 20

  9. Dave Schuler says:

    I’m not sure I agree with your interpretation of the RCP average. I think I’d interpret it as “unchanged” for the last six months. His numbers aren’t as bad as they were at their worst in the wake of the Healthcare.gov debut debacle. Since then they’ve recovered a bit and never returned to that low. Sure, they’re a bit noisy but I don’t see a notable downward trend.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  10. ernieyeball says:

    @Randy Spencer: Mataconis completely blew a chance to blame the poll numbers on racism. He’s not doing his job.

    Could be because Mr. Mataconis maintains a respectable level of credibility.
    Unlike you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  11. edmondo says:

    I am not great fan of the president but if he keeps racking up numbers like that he’ll be responsible for keeping the Clintons out of the White House twice, in 2008 and 2016. For that, the entire country will owe him a debt of gratitude.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 10

  12. PAUL HOOSON says:

    @edmondo: The economy was strong and huge under Bill Clinton and the country well managed as were foreign policy at the time. If it was up to me, I would have voted for Bill Clinton as president for life. Bill Clinton was probably the best president of my entire lifetime. I’m 58, and I’ve seen a few presidents come and go in my lifetime, starting with President Eisenhower. – If Hillary Clinton can restore what Bill Clinton once did, then this country will be well managed once again after this largely-failed 16 years of George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 7

  13. edmondo says:

    @PAUL HOOSON:

    Bill Clinton was – and is – a spineless money grubbing whore. He signed DOMA (even though he was “against” it) and repealed Glass-Steagall setting us up for the biggest economic freefall since the Great Depression. He is a certified liar and deserves to be in jail (that’s where us “little people” go when we obstruct justice by lying to federal prosecutors) not collecting hundreds of millions of dollars from his Wall Street buddies.

    You want more of that? You’ll get it if Hillary is elected.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 8

  14. superdestroyer says:

    @PAUL HOOSON:

    Bill Clinton benefited from being able to function with a hostile Republican controlled Congress and from a massive speculative bubble that ended before he left office.

    Bill Clinton did very little and he did it well. Too bad the Democratic Party could not learn the libertarin lesson of Bill Clinton and just do not start any new programs.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 5

  15. PAUL HOOSON says:

    @superdestroyer: They were far from perfect. Certainly Bill is the same “Slick Willy: that his critics accuse him of being. But, overall he was able to manage. And, that’s an important thing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  16. bill says:

    @PAUL HOOSON: i think he was “managed” by congress, he was able to do very little on his own. obama could have taken something from that and realized that his job is to “preside” vs. “dictate”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 10

  17. Tyrell says:

    Economy: some growth, but usually service jobs that pay unskilled wages. People who have been working have seen mainly flat wages for years. Higher food, gas, and building supply prices. Prices keep rising on just about everything. Middle class, working people are suffering.
    Hopefully Iran, North Korea, Syria, and some of these other junky countries won’t start some kind mess. If they do, Obama will have his hands full and the next president will once again inherit some big problems.
    And scandals unlimited.
    “Well, this is another fine mess you gotten us into”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3

  18. C. Clavin says:

    @Tyrell:
    You want small Government…you are getting the economy you desire.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 2

  19. An Interested Party says:

    obama could have taken something from that and realized that his job is to “preside” vs. “dictate”.

    Oh boo hoo, cry me a river already…if you want to see some real dictators, go to certain countries in Africa and Asia…meanwhile, this kind of talk from the President’s opponents can only make his approval numbers go back up…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 3

  20. Ron Beasley says:

    @An Interested Party: I think we need to realize that dictators are not always a bad thing. For many parts of the world Democracy is not a panacea – a lesson would should have learned in Iraq. I think we have also learned that in Egypt and keep in mind the the benevolent dictator Tito held Yugoslavia together for decades. When I worked for the Defense Intelligence Agency in the early 70s I produced a report predicting that Yugoslavia would fall apart when Tito died. To the best of my knowledge no one ever read it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2

  21. al-Ameda says:

    @bill:

    obama could have taken something from that and realized that his job is to “preside” vs. “dictate”.

    Yes, Republicans loved Bill Clinton so much that they impeached him. I see virtually no difference (relative to Bill Clinton) in the manner that Obama has been treated by Republicans except that Republicans haven’t yet decided to impeach Obama. It makes no difference in how a Democratic president governs, Republicans are going to treat the Democratic president the same.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  22. They Saved Nixon's Brain says:

    Avenge Me!! Avenge Me!!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  23. Grewgills says:

    @al-Ameda:
    They have yet to accuse him of directly murdering people as well. The depths they sunk to on Clinton are truly amazing. They even concocted stories of him having teenagers tied to train tracks ala Snidely Whiplash. It seems that since Clinton the conspiracy machine has gone into overdrive.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  24. C. Clavin says:

    @Dave Schuler:
    These numbers are essentially flat.
    The only trend here is Doug’s ODS.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  25. Dave Schuler says:

    @C. Clavin:

    It’s yet another instance of the “illusion of precision”. Over the last six months the changes have all been within the margin of error. The apparent change and any apparent trend are due to the limitations of the tools.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  26. Ben Wolf says:

    @superdestroyer:

    Bill Clinton did very little and he did it well.

    And doing very little is exactly why we’re in a contained depression. Finance unchecked by tough cops walking a beat skews toward disequilibrium, fraud and wealth destruction. The hands-off approach favored by Clinton and Greenspan was the primary cause of our current mess.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  27. Slugger says:

    Is a low approval rate a bad thing? When the last guy had stellar ratings, we were led into a quadmire of war. Obama’s inaction on the Syrian use of war gas probably made him look weak and hurt his rating. Someone who cared only about ratings would have turned those events into a big military action with the attendant cheering that comes with war. We’d have been fighting on the same side as ISIS.
    Maybe, a low rating shows a willingness to chase things other than popularity. A president is in a good position to manipulate and control their image via the media.
    Give me presidents willing to do the unpopular thing.
    Please do not think that I believe that Obama has not made many mistakes, some quite serious. But popularity is a chimera we should not pursue.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2

  28. stonetools says:

    Let’s be blunt. The reason why Obama’s figures are low is because he didn’t fix George Bush’s depression. Why hasn’t he done that? Because the Republicans have prevented him from using expansionary fiscal policy to speed up the recovery.
    Now there are a lot of reasons why this happened. But the sluggish recovery is the reason for Obama’s numbers, not Obamacare, his failure to notify Congress over the Bergdahl deal, BENGHAZI!, IRS!, Iraq, or whatever.

    The economy is fundamental, folks. Had Obama pushed through a big enough stimulus in early 2009 and employment figures started turning around in summer of 2010 we would have had a different Obama Presidency, since most likely the Tea Party surge of 2010 wouldn’t have happened. But Obama decided to listen to Tim Geithner, rather than Romer, Summers, Krugman, and all the liberal economists asking for a much bigger stimulus, because of bipartisanship, moderation, etc., so….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 3

  29. C. Clavin says:

    I have to say…I don’t really care about the polls…as they appear to be driven more by the right wing entertainment complex than anything else.
    The facts however tell a different…far more important story.
    Obama is having a great year…in spite of Bush’s Iraq folly blowing up.
    Obamacare is working and working well. With more and more private sector insurers asking to participate in Obamacare it is looking more and more sustainable every day…and the big questions and bogus predictions from the wing nuts are disappearing.
    The new EPA regulations are a major turn in the right direction. It’s easy to chide them as too little too late…but they are what is politically possible…and they are important.
    Iran is toeing the line set by the International Community led by Obama.
    There are a lot of shiny little objects that easily distract the mindless…but on the whole…so far this has been a good year in a very good Presidency.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2

  30. Pinky says:

    @al-Ameda:

    I see virtually no difference (relative to Bill Clinton) in the manner that Obama has been treated by Republicans except that Republicans haven’t yet decided to impeach Obama. It makes no difference in how a Democratic president governs, Republicans are going to treat the Democratic president the same.

    So they’re not motivated by racism. Good to hear. I’ll have to quote you on that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  31. C. Clavin says:

    @al-Ameda:

    I see virtually no difference (relative to Bill Clinton) in the manner that Obama has been treated by Republicans except that Republicans haven’t yet decided to impeach Obama.

    Disagree…Republicans then would compromise.
    They would make a deal.
    Today…they won’t even vote for their own ideas…things they actually want.
    I think it’s much different.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  32. RAOUL says:

    RASMUSSEN 48-50-Where it has been most of the time-everything else is just noise.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0