As anticipation builds for President Obama’s State of the Union address on January 28, how does the public view the Obama presidency? What do the longer trends on the Obama presidency look like? The editors of AEI’s January 2014 Political Report provide a comprehensive assessment of how views of Obama have changed in the past five years. Among the findings:
- Gallup and ABC News/Washington Post polls show that the president’s five-year average approval rating is the lowest on record. Virtually all major pollsters show a substantial drop in his approval rating over the course of 2013.
- The proportion of people who strongly disapprove of how the president is handling his job has doubled since early 2009.
- President Obama has lost significant ground among two key groups: whites and independents.
- The president has lost substantial ground on many leadership qualities. Three-quarters called him a strong leader in February 2009; only half give that response today. In a February 2009 Pew poll, 70 percent said that he would be able to get things done. Just 43 percent give that response now.
- President Obama has also lost ground on key personal qualities, Three-quarters said he was trustworthy in early 2009 (Pew). In December 2013, a bare majority, 52 percent gave that response.
- President Obama, but not the Democratic Party, has lost significant ground on questions about compassion. Eight in ten in February 2009, and two-thirds a year ago, said he cared about people like them. Now, 58 percent give that response.
- Polls on Obama’s handling of the economy and health care give him low marks. Only about 2 in 10 believe the recession is over, and of those who say things are improving, 7 in 10 say the recovery has been weak.
- Both political parties have seen their unfavorable ratings rise over the past few years, but Republicans continue to get higher unfavorable marks. People give the Democratic Party an edge over the Republicans on compassion, compromise, and problem solving. A strong plurality say neither party is committed to changing how things work in Washington.