- Obama job approval levels off after showing improvement
- Ratings highly stable around 46% during 26th quarter
- Nearly matches his term-to-date approval of 47%
PRINCETON, N.J. -- President Barack Obama's job approval rating averaged 46.1% during his 26th quarter in office, which ran from April 20 through July 19. This is essentially unchanged from his 25th quarter average, and shows his approval ratings have leveled off after increasing in each of the prior two quarters.
Obama's 26th quarter in office was marked by a high degree of stability in views of the president, as nine of Obama's 13 weekly approval averages during the quarter were 46% or 47%. The only exceptions were a single 48% weekly average and three 45% averages.
After enjoying high job approval -- typical for all presidents early in their first year in office -- Obama's average approval ratings fell below 50% during his fifth quarter. Since then, he has averaged better than 50% in only one quarter, but it was arguably the most important one: the 16th quarter, which coincided with his re-election in the fall of 2012.
His low points as president were the three quarters in which he averaged 41% job approval, including last year just prior to the 2014 midterm elections, which was a factor in the Democratic Party's losses. But after that point, Obama's approval rating climbed for two straight quarters before leveling off in the most recent quarter.
Obama's 26th Quarter Average Is Midrange
Obama is the sixth president since World War II to have served 26 quarters in office. His 46.1% average during this quarter ranks in the middle of the distribution of presidents' 26th quarter averages. Obama's average is similar to Ronald Reagan's 49.7% at the same time in his presidency. Dwight Eisenhower and Bill Clinton had significantly higher job approval ratings during their 26th quarters, while George W. Bush and Harry Truman had significantly lower approval ratings. Since Truman took office shortly after Franklin Roosevelt began his fourth term as president, his 26th quarter did not coincide with the April through July dates of other presidents' 26th quarters.
By the time presidents have been in office 6 1/2 years, Americans' opinions of them are well-established. Historically, presidents' approval ratings have been fairly steady between their 26th and 27th quarters in office. Bush, Clinton and Eisenhower saw slight increases of between one and three percentage points, while Reagan saw a roughly three-point decline.
Truman's average fell a more substantial eight points to 23%, which is the lowest quarterly average for any president in history. That low approval came at a time when Americans listed the Korean War and high cost of living as the most important problems facing the country, and when bribery and corruption in Washington was a major issue.
Obama Has Averaged 47% Job Approval as President
Obama's presidential job approval average to date is 47.4%, which is on pace to be one of the lower averages for post-World War II presidents. Only Truman (45.4%) and Jimmy Carter (45.5%) had lower average approval ratings as president, with Gerald Ford's 47.2% essentially the same as Obama's average. George W. Bush's average was slightly better at 49.4%. Bush's and Obama's ratings are held down to some extent given that they governed in times of record party polarization in ratings of presidents.
President Obama's approval ratings have stabilized after showing improvement in the fall and winter months. His spring and early summer ratings have been steady around 46%, with weekly averages that rarely stray more than a point or two from that average.
When presidents have been in office for a long time, Americans' opinions of them are largely solidified and resistant to change. Long-serving presidents can still benefit from "rally events," such as when U.S. national security is threatened, but such incidents are rare and presidents likely do their best to avoid such threats emerging in the first place.
In that vein, the president last week announced the U.S. had helped broker a historic agreement to limit Iran's ability to develop nuclear weapons. But the agreement hasn't had any noticeable effect so far on how Americans view the way the president is handling his job, with his approval rating since the announcement holding at about 46%.
These data are available in Gallup Analytics.
Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted April 20-July 19, 2015, on the Gallup U.S. Daily survey, with a random sample of 45,080 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.
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