Obama Approval Far Below Reagan, Clinton — Edges Bush

Obama Approval Far Below Reagan, Clinton — Edges Bush

Gallup reports that President Obama’s approval rating slipped again in the 2nd Quarter, falling to 47.9%. The dip was the second quarterly drop in a row. At the end of last year, on the heels of his reelection, Obama’s approval rating stood at 51.9%. His approval rating is near the bottom of second-term Presidents at this point in their tenure. 

Both Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton had significantly higher approval ratings at this point in their Presidencies. Reagan enjoyed a 58.7% approval rating, while Clinton’s approval was slightly lower, 56.3%. Gallup notes that Obama’s poll numbers more closely resemble George W. Bush and Harry Truman. Truman’s approval rating was 48.7%. Bush’s was slightly lower than Obama’s at 47.3%.

Over the next three months, the 19th Quarter in office, every modern President has seen a decline in their approval ratings, with the exceptions of Reagan and Clinton. Both Presidents were presiding over a strong and growing economy. Obama will be presiding, at best, over a weak and stagnant economy. 

Obama faces particular challenges over the next three months, however. This Fall, Washington will be consumed with another fight over raising the nation’s debt ceiling and passing a budget. The last time Obama and Congress fought over the debt ceiling, his approval ratings fell to the lowest of his time in office, 41%. 

Also, in October a major piece of his ObamaCare law is scheduled to go into effect, the federal and state health insurance exchanges. As with any major government undertaking, there are likely going to be problems with the implementation. Massive problems, however, which are not unlikely, could further erode Obama’s approval. 

Obama’s challenge is that he is in a weak position to absorb those threats to his approval. Just a drop of a few points would put his approval in the low 40s. That is a weak position heading into an important election year, when the Democrats are at serious risk of losing control of the Senate. 

Senate Democrats would likely continue to chart their own course, moving themselves away from Obama and the White House. The success or failure of Obama’s second term may be decided this Fall.