Tales from the Trail

Are Obama’s approval ratings that bad? Maybe not, relatively speaking

October 15, 2010

USA-ELECTIONS/OBAMA

President Obama’s approval rating has been below 50 percent for most of 2010. But are things really so bad? Gallup suggests they’re not, relatively speaking.

In fact, Democratic incumbents who’ve shunned or tried to avoid associating with Obama may have denied themselves the chance to firm their own party base for an election contest that’s all about turnout.

The Obama approval rating, at the moment, stands in the mid- to low-40s and foreshadows stiff losses for congressional Democrats on Nov. 2. 

USA-HEALTHCARE/PELOSIBut Gallup says the president’s average rating since taking office is at 52 percent — a number above George W. Bush’s 49 percent rating and on par with Ronald Reagan’s.
    
That’s not all. The really good news for Obama is how well he’s doing vis-a-vis Congress. 
    
Gallup’s study, which has a 4 percentage point sampling error, shows Obama’s 52-percent approval average to be twice that of Congress, which got only 26 percent.

That 26-percentage-point margin outshines those for all but one of the five preceding presidents, the exception being George H.W. Bush, who was better liked than lawmakers to the tune of 30 percentage points.

The president’s way ahead of Congress in the latest round of polling, too, with his weak 45 percent approval towering over the 21 USA-POLITICS/PRIMARYpercent popularity rating that U.S. adults gave lawmakers. (Twenty-one percent of Americans also think the country’s heading in the right direction, though Gallup gave no hints about who they might be.)

“Americans’ anger seems directed more at Congress than at Obama, and given Obama’s continued high approval from members of his own party, it is likely that he could, at the very least, be effective at motivating the Democratic base to turn out,” Gallup concludes.

Photo credits: Reuters/Jim Young (Obama Campaigning and Stormy U.S. Capitol); Reuters/Mike Segar (Voter Casts Ballot in New York State)

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