- Quarterly approval average improves by three points
- Best quarterly average since Obama's 18th quarter
- Rating is midrange for presidents in 25th quarter
PRINCETON, N.J. -- President Barack Obama averaged a 46.4% job approval rating during his 25th quarter in office, up three percentage points from the prior quarter. This is his best quarterly average since mid-2013, during his 18th quarter, when he averaged 47.9% approval.
The three-point improvement in the last quarter is the second largest quarter-to-quarter increase in Obama's presidency, behind the four-point increase in his 16th quarter, corresponding with his 2012 re-election. However, since the recent improvement comes after some of his lowest quarterly averages in late 2014, his most recent 46.4% quarterly average still ranks only in the middle of the pack for him.
The gains in Obama's support continued a trend first seen near the end of 2014, when falling gas prices helped Americans' confidence in the economy reach post-recession highs. Although Americans' economic confidence has dipped a little since peaking in early February, it remains better than it has been in the last several years, most likely because gas prices remain low in an absolute sense and the job market has improved considerably.
Obama's improved ratings in his 25th quarter may also have been helped by international agreements the U.S. helped broker to address the conflict in Ukraine and Iran's nuclear program. Obama has also re-established formal diplomatic relations with Cuba as one of several steps meant to set a new course in U.S.-Cuba relations.
Obama's 25th Quarter Midrange Compared With Other Presidents
The 25th quarter of a full two-term presidency corresponds with the beginning of the seventh year in office. Obama's average job approval in the 25th quarter ranks third among the five post-World War II presidents elected to two terms -- well behind those of Dwight Eisenhower and Bill Clinton, similar to Ronald Reagan's, but much better than that of George W. Bush.
Clinton's 25th quarter was especially noteworthy because it was during that time period that the Senate acquitted him during his impeachment trial. His 25th-quarter average of 64.6% was his second best as president, behind the 66.5% average in his 24th quarter.
Reagan's 25th-quarter average of 46.0% was the lowest of his second term as president, as his administration was ensnared in the Iran-Contra scandal. Bush's 35% average was part of the slump in his approval ratings throughout most of his second term, largely because of the unpopular Iraq War but also due to a series of missteps including the government's response to Hurricane Katrina, his nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court and plans to sell the rights to U.S. port operations to a United Arab Emirates company.
History offers no guidelines for how Obama's approval rating might change between his 25th and 26th quarters. Eisenhower's and Reagan's approval ratings increased between these quarters, while Bush's and Clinton's ratings declined.
President Obama's political support has gained positive momentum after suffering last fall around the time of the midterm elections, when his Democratic Party lost control of the U.S. Senate. Obama likely has benefited politically from an improving economy driven by low gas prices and low unemployment, and possibly recent progress in addressing long-standing U.S. challenges on the international stage.
Even so, his 46.4% approval average during his 25th quarter is well below the historical average of 53.3% for all presidents since 1945. Obama's approval ratings have for the most part been below the majority level since he took office, having averaged above 50% in only one quarter since his first year as president. Of course, that quarter was in the fall of 2012, and was enough to ensure his re-election as president.
Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Jan. 20-April 19, 2015, on the Gallup U.S. Daily survey, with a random sample of 44,083 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±1 percentage point at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.
Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.
Learn more about how the Gallup U.S. Daily works.