Obama’s Approval Under 50 Percent
Barack Obama’s approval ratings are now firmly below 50 percent, with the CBS poll as the latest data point:
President Obama’s job approval rating has fallen to 46 percent, according to a new CBS News poll.
That rating is Mr. Obama’s lowest yet in CBS News polling, and the poll marks the first time his approval rating has fallen below the 50 percent mark. Forty-one percent now say they disapprove of Mr. Obama’s performance as president.
In last month’s CBS News poll, 50 percent of Americans approved of how the president was handling his job, while thirty-nine percent disapproved.
RealClearPolitics actually has the average slightly higher than that, but it includes a CNN poll from weeks ago:
In a sidebar titled “The Irony Behind Obama’s Poll Numbers, ” CBS’s Charles Cooper observes,
For an administration that swept into Washington with high hopes – don’t they all? – the results are a rebuke to a political leader who championed the slogan, “change we need.” The irony is that President Obama’s job approval ratings have suffered even as he has tried to push through an ambitious agenda in Congress to force the very change he promised. If you interpret the numbers as an interim report card, this isn’t one to trumpet.
Let’s put in another way: The public is handing out the lowest grades of Mr. Obama’s presidency for the way he’s handled his his two biggest policy challenges – the economy and health care reform. Only 41% of the public still says that it approves of the way the president is handling the economy. Meanwhile, 82% describe the economy as being in bad condition. What’s more, just 36% support the way he has handled health care reform while 54% disapprove.
The one consolation for Mr. Obama: 31% of the public thinks the economy is getter better, compared to 5% who thought things were improving last February.
With the benefit of 20-20 hindsight, the plunge in Mr. Obama’s approval ratings now seems as if it were preordained. Unlike most other first-year presidents, Mr. Obama assumed office with the economy in its worst trough since the 1930s Depression. He quickly spent much of his political capital moving on an ambitious domestic agenda, but just as quickly ran into a wall of opposition over the $787 billion stimulus bill. The GOP dunned the new administration for being profligate and warned that the president was saddling future generations with trillions of dollars in debts. Mr. Obama’s economic team argued that the government had little choice but to move dramatically to help kick-start the nation’s economic engine and fill the vacuum left by the private sector.
It’s also worth noting that poor performance ratings are neither unusual nor unrecoverable. If you look at historical Gallup polls, you’ll see that Ronald Reagan was under 50% mark by this time in his presidency — for similar reasons — and Bill Clinton was there only 4 months into his administration. Both were easily re-elected. For that matter, George H.W. Bush didn’t fall below the 50% mark until his 36th month in office and he was defeated in his bid for a second term. If you’re going to be unpopular, it’s best to do it early. And, of course, to have the economy in full recovery by early in the year you’re up for election.