The Obama presidency thus far: A report on the polls
AEI Political Report, January 2014

Reuters

President Barack Obama listens to remarks during his meeting with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington January 13, 2014.

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.

 

Read the Public Opinion Study

The Obama presidency thus far by American Enterprise Institute

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About the Author

 

Karlyn
Bowman
  • Karlyn Bowman compiles and analyzes American public opinion using available polling data on a variety of subjects, including the economy, taxes, the state of workers in America, environment and global warming, attitudes about homosexuality and gay marriage, NAFTA and free trade, the war in Iraq, and women's attitudes. In addition, Ms. Bowman has studied and spoken about the evolution of American politics because of key demographic and geographic changes. She has often lectured on the role of think tanks in the United States and writes a weekly column for Forbes.com.
  • Phone: 2028625910
    Email: kbowman@aei.org
  • Assistant Info

    Name: Andrew Rugg
    Phone: 2028625917
    Email: andrew.rugg@aei.org

 

Jennifer K.
Marsico
  • Jennifer K. Marsico is a senior research associate at AEI, working in the Political Corner. Her research focuses on elections and election reform, as well as government continuity issues. She is a visiting fellow at the Independent Women's Forum. She is also a contributor to the AEIdeas blog, and has also written for many outside print and online publications, including The Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, and Roll Call. Ms. Marsico serves as assistant director of the AEI-Brookings Continuity of Government Commission, and has contributed to recent studies on Supreme Court continuity, voter registration modernization, and civic participation in the digital age.

  • Phone: 202.862.5899
    Email: jennifer.marsico@aei.org

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