Obama’s Approval Numbers Back In The Basement

The President's winter polling bounce is gone, and he's looking vulnerable again.

After experiencing a bounce in his job approval numbers in January after the lame duck session of Congress and the shootings in Tucson, Arizona, President Obama finds himself losing public support once again:

President Barack Obama’s approval rating and prospects for reelection have plunged to all-time lows in a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday.

Half of the registered voters surveyed for the poll  think that the president does not deserve a second term in office, while 41 percent say he does. In another Quinnipiac poll released just four weeks ago, 45 percent said the president did not deserve reelection, while 47 percent said he did.

The decline in support for a second Obama term comes as his approval rating has dropped 4 percentage points since early March, landing at 42 percent – a record low – in the poll released Wednesday. His disapproval rating has risen from 46 percent to 48 percent.

The downward trend isn’t limited to just one poll, as Obama finds himself down across the board:

Perhaps of more concern to the White House, though, is a new Gallup poll that shows increasing public doubt about the President’s ability as a leader:

PRINCETON, NJ — Americans have grown increasingly less likely to view President Obama as a strong and decisive leader since he took office. Roughly half now believe this aptly describes, him compared with 60% a year ago and 73% in April 2009.

These results are based on a March 25-27 Gallup poll, conducted just before Obama’s widely covered speech on U.S. military action in Libya on Monday night.

The decline in Obama’s leadership rating stands in contrast to the stability in the trend for two other personal dimensions. Fifty-seven percent of Americans believe the president understand the problems Americans face in their daily lives, essentially unchanged from 56% in March 2010. And 51% of respondents believe Obama shares their values, similar to 48% last year. Both ratings are down from early 2009.

As John Podhoretz notes, this last number is particularly surprising given the fact that it comes at a time when the President is sending American forces into military conflict, an act which, even if one disagrees with the particular decision, tends to at least give the impression that he is a strong and decisive leader. Of course, any “rally round the flag” bump that Obama would normally expect in these situations is likely discounted by the fact that the public continues to have deep doubts about the mission in Libya, and doesn’t believe that the President has adequately explained what our mission there is:

The public is about evenly split in a new AP poll, with 48 percent approving and 50 percent disapproving of “U.S. involvement in military actions taken in Libya.” That’s about the same as polls from Pew and Gallup reported Monday. The AP poll completed its interviewing on Monday night, when President Obama gave his prime time speech on Libya. At just 13 percent, there is virtually no support for sending ground troops into Libya, in line with earlier polls from CNN and Pew.

A poll from Quinnipiac University, also completed on Monday night among registered voters, found varying levels of support with subtle reactions to the timing and ongoing commitment in Libya. A 53 percent majority approve of Obama’s decision to use cruise missiles to destroy Libya’s air defenses.

But beyond that initial approval for limited action, fewer believe a continued commitment is justified. Fully 47 percent say we should not be involved in Libya now, with just 41 percent saying it is the “right thing” for the United States to use military force now.

Additionally, a new Rasmussen Poll shows little change in public opinion on Libya after President Obama’s speech on Monday night. This, combined with an economy that still seems to be in limbo and rising energy and food prices, are likely contributing to Obama’s decline.

Ed Morrissey notes:

Normally, a military action allows a President an opportunity to demonstrate those leadership qualities.  Obama squandered that opportunity by leaving the country without addressing the nation as he sent the American military into a fresh conflict.  His speech ten days later might undo some of that damage, but if it doesn’t, Obama is in serious political trouble.  Few Presidents win a second term on a 41/50 re-elect number, especially when seem as a weak leader on top of it.

This much is true, but we are still about 19 months from the 2012 elections, and the GOP field still looks like a bunch of dwarfs, so don’t count Obama out just yet. With the right circumstances, and the right opponent, though, there’s a good chance that Barack Obama could be a one term President.



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. ponce says:

    Talk about bad timing, Gallup has Obama’s approval rating back up at 49% to day.

    Amateurs frequently mistake stochastic data for trends.

  2. wr says:

    Wow. One poll. Obama is doomed.

  3. Tano says:

    The downward trend isn’t limited to just one poll, as Obama finds himself down across the board:

    How can you write such lazy crap? The data is right there underneath the graph on RealClea, and it shows the exact opposite of what you claim.

    The data that RC uses to make that graph, besides the Q poll and the two daily trackers, are the CBS poll – approval up one point from its previous number, the CNN poll – also up one, and the Fox poll, down two – i.e. no net change amongst those three. Gallup daily is actually up 3 pts from a couple of weeks ago, and Rasmussen down two. Once again, considering ALL the other polls in this average, there is no difference.

    The only factor responsible for the slight downward movement in the average is the Q poll.

  4. TG Chicago says:

    Gee, when Obama does something liberals like (end DADT) his polls go up. When he does something that liberals don’t like (more war) his numbers go down. But I’m sure the answer is to be more like a Republican-lite.

    Anyway, as far as this post goes, we’ve seen several posts before from Mataconis and Joyner where they explain that Obama will be nearly impossible to beat, since that never happens to incumbent presidents (you know, except for 2 of the last 5. And G.W. Bush would have lost in 2004 if just 2% of Ohio voters had gone the other way. But as long as you ignore all that, incumbency is a total lock for a second term.)

    But a small amount of new data comes out — even as Republicans are having a hard time finding anybody willing to say they’re running — and suddenly we’re talking about Obama being a one-term president.

    Get a grip, guys. You were wrong when you said that being an incumbent was a nigh-insurmountable advantage, and you’re wrong now to start calling Obama a lame duck. Just chill for a bit.

  5. John Malkovich says:
  6. jwest says:

    I’ve got to agree with our liberal friends that Obama is far from out of this race.

    He has plenty of time to raise his poll numbers on being a strong/decisive leader from its current 17%. We should only have 3 or 4 wars going in the next year, so he will have the opportunity to prove his foreign policy skills. By November of 2012, people will have accepted 9% unemployment and $4.00 gas as the new “normal”.

    High foreclosures will add to the amount of voters who depend on a strong social safety net, so that’s a plus for Obama. People still love Michelle and those who still have televisions can’t wait to watch which luxury resort she will go to next. Why, with the right advertising campaign, Obama will probably convince the 11% of democrats and 23% of independents that he was actually born in the U.S., although it might be harder to stop folks from thinking he’s a Muslim.

    All in all, Barack has a lot of things going for his reelection.

  7. John Malkovich says:

    LMAO !!!!!!!!!

    That is damn funny JW

  8. John Malkovich says:

    “By November of 2012, people will have accepted 9% unemployment ”

    According to GALLUP it’s 10% unemployment.

    But who cares about that 1% right?

  9. Kylopod says:

    Let me once again quote this other astonishing article:

    Poll gives edge to Republicans: The poll found that 49 percent of voters do not think Obama deserves to be re-elected

    After controlling Congress for the first time in four years, Republicans hold some powerful–if fragile–advantages over Democrats, and President Obama faces substantial hurdles in a re-election contest, according to a bipartisan poll released Tuesday.

    Obama, they found, faces an electorate in which 49 percent of the voters “indicate both that they do not believe that Obama deserves re-election and that they would not vote for him no matter who ran against him.”

    By 47 percent to 25 percent, voters said they had more confidence in the Republican Congress than Obama for “getting things done,” and by 41 percent ot 24 percent, they favor the Congress over Obama for “changing politics as usual in Washington.”

    A plurality of voters–49 percent–said Obama had done a poor job “following through” on campaign promises, and 43 percent said he had done a good job.

    It is clear that voters recognize what Republicans did in 2010 and they have few regrets. Democrats, including Barack Obama, have seen their advantages on major issues of the day seriously erode. The Republicans have much of the advantage now. They gained voters’ confidence on most issues and get strong ratings for keeping their promises.

    Obama is doomed.

  10. Axel Edgren says:

    I’m OK with it either way – if Americans don’t elect Obama, they suffer, and if they elect him they don’t.

    As long as the stupid suffer and are reduced to more squalid lives, I am completely at ease.

    Give any of your polled people the GOP nominee first. Trot it out and see how much they turn up their nose to Obama – there is no “none of the above”.

  11. John Malkovich says:

    Orthodox Jew and Democrat???

    Pharaoh on you!

  12. Kylopod says:

    >Orthodox Jew and Democrat???

    Y’talkin’ to me?

  13. An Interested Party says:

    With the right circumstances, and the right opponent, though, there’s a good chance that Barack Obama could be a one term President.

    Hmm…and that opponent would be?

    @Kylopod: Exactly right…the president seems to be lucky, just as Clinton was, in who he has for political opponents…

  14. Tano says:

    Well, here is some more data out today – will this earn a write-up Doug?

    Ap-GfK poll finds Obama approval at 53% !!! disapp – 45% ! Wow – thats a net plus eight for a guy who only won election by 7.

    Deserves to be re-elected? Well, thats at 50%, how about that! Net plus 3.

    Apporve Dems in Congress? 41%
    Approve Reps in Congress? 31%

    Ap poll – PDF