PRINCETON, NJ -- President Obama's job approval rating fell to 47% for the week ending April 11, the lowest of his administration so far by one percentage point.
Obama's weekly job approval average has fluctuated within the narrow four-point range of 47% to 51% since January of this year. The current weekly average more than anything else represents a continuation of the president's generally lower approval ratings this year compared to the higher ratings he enjoyed in his first year in office.
On a short-term basis, Obama's latest three-day average (Friday through Sunday) is at 45%, with disapproval at 48% -- both of which are the worst three-day averages since Obama took office.
In historical context, Obama's job approval rating is slightly below where Bill Clinton was in April 1994, his second year in office, but roughly equal to Ronald Reagan's approval rating in April 1982. Both of these presidents' political parties lost substantial numbers of House seats in the midterm elections in their second years, a historical fact that does not bode well for the Democratic Party in this fall's elections if Obama's ratings stay at their current level or go lower.
The drop in Obama's approval rating is not the result of any dramatic change across partisan groups. His 83% among Democrats is consistent with where it has been this year to date. His 43% rating among independents is down from last week, but not out of sync with previous ratings among this group. Obama continues to get low ratings among Republicans.
It is difficult to pinpoint precisely what drives change in any president's job approval ratings. The biggest political news of the past month has been the passage of the new healthcare bill -- a signature achievement of the Obama administration. Obama's Daily approval rating increased slightly around the time of the bill's passage, but that slight bump soon dissipated.
A weekend Gallup survey shows that Americans remain somewhat more negative than positive about the bill.
Obama's approval rating is clearly not being lifted by positive views of his political party. The Democratic Party in Gallup's most recent survey has a 41% favorable rating, the lowest in Gallup's 18-year history of measuring it.
Americans' continuing assessments of the national economy could also be affecting their assessments of President Obama. Gallup's Job Creation Index shows no signs that companies across the nation are significantly ramping up their hiring of new workers. Economic confidence for the week ending Sunday is up slightly, to tie the most positive reading measured so far this year -- in contrast to the slight drop in Obama's overall approval -- but confidence remains significantly more negative than positive.
News accounts and pundit anticipation of the high-visibility nuclear arms summit, which began Monday in Washington, could have affected Obama's approval rating. The summit has called attention to the administration's positions on defense and the military.
Finally, looking ahead, Obama's standing in the public's eyes may be affected by the nomination process that will ensue from the retirement of Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. The resignation presents President Obama with his second opportunity to nominate a new justice, and has already precipitated strong reaction from Republicans and conservatives concerned about the type of individual Obama may appoint.
Results are based on telephone interviews with a random sample of 3,627 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted April 5-11, 2010, as part of Gallup Daily tracking. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.
Interviews are conducted with respondents on land-line telephones and cellular phones.
In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.