Politics

After Brief Uptick, Obama Approval Slips to 47%

by Jeffrey M. Jones

New low follows slight increase after announcement of Afghanistan policy

PRINCETON, NJ -- Barack Obama's presidential job approval rating is 47% in the latest Gallup Poll Daily tracking update, a new low for his administration to date. His approval rating has been below 50% for much of the time since mid-November, but briefly rose to 52% last week after he announced his new Afghanistan policy.

November-December 2009 Trend: Presidential Job Approval for Barack Obama

Any slight bump in support Obama received coincident with his new Afghanistan policy proved to be very short-lived, as his approval rating returned to below the majority level by the weekend, and slipped further to 47% in Dec. 4-6 polling.

Afghanistan is just one of many high-profile issues with which the president is dealing. Immediate public reaction to his new Afghanistan policy showed 51% in favor and 40% opposed, according to a Dec. 2 USA Today/Gallup poll.

Obama spent part of Sunday on Capitol Hill talking to lawmakers as they continue working on healthcare reform legislation. In the most recent Gallup update, more Americans said they would advise their members to vote against healthcare legislation than said they would advise them to vote for it.

"Thus far in December, Obama has averaged 50% job approval. That is similar to the December averages for Ronald Reagan (49%) and Bill Clinton (53%), who also took office when the economy was struggling."

Additionally, in recent days Obama has been ramping up his focus on finding ways to create jobs for out-of-work Americans, and is planning a major speech on Tuesday outlining his ideas for spurring job creation. In late November, Gallup found slight majorities of Americans disapproving of the way Obama was handling job creation and the economy more generally.

Obama travels to Oslo, Norway, this week to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. In October, Obama got a slight bump in his approval ratings after he was announced as the winner. Obama will also travel to Copenhagen, Denmark, to attend the global climate change conference.

In the new Dec. 4-6 Gallup Daily results, Obama's approval rating is 14% among Republicans, 42% among independents, and 83% among Democrats. Compared to his ratings in early November, when he averaged 53% job approval overall, his ratings are down three points among Democrats, seven points among independents, and four points among Republicans.

Thus far in December, Obama has averaged 50% job approval. That is similar to the December averages for Ronald Reagan (49%) and Bill Clinton (53%), who also took office when the economy was struggling. All other recent presidents elected to their first terms had approval averages of 57% or above in their first December in office.

Job Approval Rating Averages for Presidents in December of First Year in Office

Bottom Line

Obama faced significant challenges upon taking office, including arguably the worst economy since the Great Depression and two ongoing wars. Obama is actively trying to address these issues while also tackling some longer-term issues like healthcare and climate change. Over the course of the year, his approval ratings have fallen, perhaps due to lack of obvious progress on many of these fronts, but also perhaps because of the public's apparent reluctance so far to embrace the healthcare reform effort.

Obama maintains the support of more than 8 in 10 Democrats, though his approval ratings among his fellow partisans have declined over the course of the year. He has seen his approval ratings among independents and Republicans slide by at least 20 points since the beginning of his term, and now stands at a personal low of 47% approval among all Americans.

Gallup tracks President Obama's job approval daily and updates approval ratings among demographic groups each Monday.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,529 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Dec. 4-6, 2009, 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.

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