Gallup: Obama average first-term approval ratings among lowest in modern history

David Martosko Executive Editor
Font Size:

A Gallup poll released on the morning of Barack Obama’s second public presidential inauguration shows that his first term was marked by a level of public disapproval exceeded in the modern era only by Presidents Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford.

Obama “averaged 49.1% job approval during his first term in office, among the lowest for post-World War II presidents,” Gallup said Monday.

“Obama’s first-term average is most similar to Bill Clinton’s. Lyndon Johnson, John Kennedy, and Dwight Eisenhower were the most popular first-term presidents.”

The president’s job approval rating was highest — 57.2 percent — during his first year in office. His worst-performing year was his third, during which only 44.4 percent of Americans approved of his work in the White House.

Obama’s 48.1 percent approval rating in the fourth year of his presidency also ranked third-worst among modern-era presidents who sought re-election after a four-year term. Presidents George H.W. Bush and Carter, the only two in that group to lose their re-elections, were also the only two to fare worse by that measurement.

Obama faces “the mounting federal budget deficit and the continuing need to find ways to reduce federal spending” in his second term, Gallup said, “something he and the Republicans have failed to make significant progress on over the last two years.”

“He has made legislation to reduce gun violence a high priority and has expressed a desire to pass comprehensive immigration and energy reform. As in the latter part of his first term, the president’s ability to succeed in these efforts will depend greatly on his ability to work with a divided Congress. The extent to which he can do that, along with the health of the economy, will be major factors in determining the level of public support Obama will get in his second term in office.”

Follow David on Twitter