Obama Hits All-Time Job Approval Low In Gallup Poll

We're approaching the point where those job approval numbers start to matter, and President Obama's are heading down again.

Remember the political boost that President Obama seemed to experience in two months after the 2010 mid-term elections? After a tense but ultimately successful lame duck session of Congress in December, and the President’s widely acclaimed response to the tragedy in Tucson, President Obama seemed to have turned a corner. With the economy on the upswing, it seemed like things were looking pretty good for the Obama Administration.

Well, that was then, and this is now:

PRINCETON, NJ – The latest Gallup Daily tracking three-day average shows 41% of Americans approving of the job Barack Obama is doing as president. That ties his low as president, which he registered three times previously — twice in August 2010 and once in October 2010.

The current 41% approval rating from April 12-14 polling includes interviews conducted before and after Obama announced his plan for deficit reduction on Wednesday. It also comes in the same week Congress is voting on the 2011 budget deal reached last Friday. The deal did not seem to have an immediate effect on the way Americans viewed Obama, given his 44% approval rating in the three days prior to the agreement and his 46% rating in the initial days after the agreement.

The economy is likely also a factor in Obama’s declining ratings. Though unemployment is improving according to government estimates, the economic recovery remains slow and is being challenged by rising fuel prices. Presidents’ approval ratings have historically suffered in times of high gas prices.

The current three-day average finds 50% of Americans disapproving of Obama, two percentage points below his high disapproval rating of 52% from Aug. 15-17 and Aug. 16-18, 2010, polling.

Of more concern to the political operatives in Washington and Chicago, though, is likely to be the mood of the independent electorate:

Obama’s approval rating in April 12-14 polling is down most among independents when compared with his 2011 average to date as well as his term average among this group. Currently, 35% of independents approve of the president, nine points off his average from independents this year. Democrats’ current ratings are also below what he has averaged thus far in 2011 (down four points), while Republicans’ are the same.

This isn’t just a quirk in the Gallup poll, across the board it’s pretty clear that the post-midterm bounce is gone:

And then there’s the problem with Independents:

But there’s one other poll that poses a bigger problem for the President as we edge closer and closer to the beginning of the 2012 campaign:

This, I think, is going to be the President’s biggest problem between now and Election Day. With the economy in a weak recovery, gas prices rising, inflation seeming to be starting to make a comeback, and the international situation in more chaos than ever, the public is at the point where it’s nearly as pessimistic about the direction of the country as it was in the months before the 2008 election, and the trend seems to be getting worse rather than better. If that trend continues, then one wonders how, barring a completely boneheaded move by Republican Party, the President is going to be able to convince the public that he deserves a second term.

Of course, if the last three months teach us anything it should be that these poll numbers fluctuate. By August, President Obama could be “the comeback kid” again, especially if the economy is improving and unemployment is falling. But he’s in a very precarious position right now, and it may just take one more thing going wrong for him to fall down into a hole that he won’t be able to climb out of .

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held 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 contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. yetanotherjohn says:

    Psychologically, the three major break points are below 50% approval, approval below disapproval (which usually closely follows depending on undecideds) and below 40% approval. For the GOP, Obama going below 40% approval is to soon. Going below 40% a year from now would be perfect. If his approval goes below 40% now, that raises the real possibility of a serious dem challenge. Campaigning against Obama on his record is a lot easier than against someone who can run away from Obama’s record.

    Also realize that part of this lower approval is the left unhappy with Obama because of Guatanamo, Libya, lack of a public insurance option, Iraq, Afghanistan, deficits, extending Bush tax cuts, etc. While their enthusiasm levels can impact the election, at the end of the day they will come home to the dems.

  2. ponce says:

    And yet…Obama’s approval rating is up 4 points to 48% in the Rasmussen daily poll this week.

  3. Tano says:

    Good point Ponce.

    This is just Doug doing his thing again – jumping on what is most likely a one or two day anomoly, and pretending it is some big trend.

    Granted, Gallup themselves pushed this story line, but it really doesnt take much to see through this.

    Three day rolling average polls suffer from the fact that one absurdly anomolous result ((which can easily happen given the small sample size of an individual day) can artificially weigh down the average for three full days.

    Thats why, if you really are interested in what might be going on, rather than simply getting a cheap anti-Obama headline (and maybe getting Smooth Jazz off your back for a few days), you try to look at the bigger picture. Look at the other polls, like Rasmussen for example. Ras of course has a strong pro-GOP bias, but it is a pretty consistent bias, so you can use the poll to pick up on trends, even if the actual numbers are suspect. And yes, just when Gallup has sharp downturns for Obama over the past 3 days, Rasmussen has had a sharp uptick.

    In fact the real news here is that, as of today, Rasmussen’s approval rating for Obama is 6 points better than Gallup!!! I cannot remeber this ever happenign. In fact, if Ras is just a few points better than Gallup, or even just tied, that is big news. 95% of all days, Rasmussen’s approval ratings are about 6 points worse than Gallup, and worse than the average of all other polls,. But this week, for some strange reason, Gallup is a total outlier.

    So writing stories like Doug does here is deeply misleading – its hard to avoid the charge of being downright dishonest. No one who tracks politics as closely as Doug does can be unaware of the larger context of all the other polls, and the anomalous position of Galluyp’s results this week. To pretend that this is clear evidence of a real trend, and to make political conclusions based on it, is utterly without foundation.

    I’ll bet you that Gallup shows at least a three point improvement within a day or two, and that within a week, its average is back in line with other polls. Will Doug then write a post about the huge surge toward Obama? Or a corrective about the conclusions he makes in this post?

  4. Wiley Stoner says:

    Ponce and Tano agree. I am shocked. I guess you fellas missed the last election. So did Obama evidently. Republicans took back the House of Representatives in massive numbers. In 2012 the donks have about 20 Senators facing reelection. About 15 of them will not be returning. Obama over reached and the American people know it. His doo doo is raggity and he will be like Carter a one term failure. Clinton used to say “I feel your pain”, Obama causes our pain. No President will ever be reelected with a gallon of gas costing what it costs today. He is owned by the watermelons, you know green on the outside, red on the inside.

  5. matt says:

    No President will ever be reelected with a gallon of gas costing what it costs today.


    The price of gas is only going to continue to go up so you better get used to that concept 😛

  6. jwest says:

    Although it is inarguable that Obama’s approval is sinking steadily, the only poll number that matters this far out is Right Track, Wrong Track.

    There are those who still hold out hope for an Obama second term. The only question will be the scale of his loss.

  7. michael reynolds says:


    Really? So, tell me, who is the next president? Trump? Huckabee? Palin? Bachmann? Gingrich?

    You might just be able to make an argument for Romney, except for the wee fact that the GOP wants a fight on health care and that issue isn’t really great for the father of RomneyCare.

    Your candidates are unknown bores or known buffoons. And the primary battles are going to a free for all of whacky. So, good luck with that.

  8. Tano says:

    Although it is inarguable that Obama’s approval is sinking steadily,

    As of today, Obama’s approval average at RealClearPolitics is exactly where it was in Feb. 2010. Since then it has been three points lower, and it has been three points higher – it basically has been stable with minor fluctuations for well over a year.

    But I certainly would excuse you for being so mininformed. Unless you follow the data yourself, you may easily be misled by the many Doug Mataconises out there – folks who just love to write up doom and gloom posts whenever O’s numbers take a dip – but then of course they never bother saying anything when the number go up. So you get a constant stream of stories about “new lows”, or big declines, and you don’t ever get the other side of the story.

    There are those who still hold out hope for an Obama second term.

    Yes indeed. The betting line over at INTrade has Obama reelect at 60%. Its folks like you who are living in a fantasy world.

  9. george says:

    These kinds of numbers fluctuate all the time. Far too early to predict what they will be like come the next election.

  10. mike sheppard says:

    Hey Ponce/Tano-rather than Gallup moving back up to Rasmussen-Gallup is holding steady and Rasmussen is moving down to meet it-so much for your crystal ball prognostication.

  11. Tano says:

    Hey Mike Sheppard,,

    Sorry, but you seem to be mistaken.

    Yes, on Saturday, Rasmussen’s approval dipped from 48 to 46. But today, Sunday, it is right back up at 48%.

    Gallup meanwhile, has gone from 41 on Friday (the big “historical low”) to 44% today. There has also been a 3 pt. decline in the disapprovals since Friday. That adds up to a shift in the net score of 6 points, from minus 9 to minus 3.

    So yes the polls have converged, but it has been all Gallup moving up. Ras is exactly the same as Friday.

    I’ll go further out on a limb and restate my second prediction, that over the next few days, Gallup will gain another 3 or 4 points till it is back where it has been, with minor flucuations, for a long time.

    This post from Doug is a complete crock. You really do need to look to the larger context, in terms of other polling outfits, and temporally – to see if daily perturbations reflect real trends.

    You get far fewer excited headlines though….