Polling News & Notes Overlooked Recent Polling and Insights • December 30, 2010 Measuring Obama’s Approval After Two Years: When Barack Obama entered office in January 2009, Gallup polls found that 67% of Americans approved of the job he was doing—the highest of any newly elected president since John F. Kennedy in 1961. But now, nearly two years later, how do Obama’s job approval ratings stack up against other modern presidents at similar points in their terms? At 47% in the most recent week’s Gallup poll, Obama’s approval is the third-‐lowest of any president since World War Two. On average, presidents have had an approval rating of 56.5% after two years in office, or 10.5 points higher than Obama’s today.
Job Approval After Two Years in Of>ice (Gallup Polls Since World War II, Shaded by Party) 76 69
President Obama might take some solace, however, from the fact that the two presidents with lower approval ratings than him at this point in their term—Ronald Reagan (41%) and Bill Clinton (40%)—both went on to win re-‐election. For Reagan and Clinton, the third year in office was a pivotal turning point. In 1983, Reagan delivered his “evil empire” speech ordering U.S. troops to invade Grenada, and the unemployment rate fell from 10.4% to 8.3%. In 1995, Clinton sent troops to Bosnia and began “triangulating” to the political center. As a result, at the start of their fourth year in office, both Reagan and Clinton crossed back above the 50% threshold. If President Obama hopes to win a second term, 2011 will need to be an equally-‐momentous turning point for his presidency. ###