Politics

Obama Approval Hits 50% After Stretch of Sub-50 Ratings

by Lydia Saad

Average approval rating for week ending Jan. 31 is his lowest to date

PRINCETON, NJ -- President Barack Obama's job approval rating is 50% in the most recent three-day Gallup Daily tracking, from Jan. 29-31. This follows 11 straight days of Gallup reporting in which Obama's approval rating was below the 50% mark.

President Obama Job Approval -- Gallup Daily Tracking for January 2010

For the week ending Jan. 31, Obama's average approval rating was 48% -- the lowest weekly average of his presidency. While similar to the 49% average approval rating he received the previous week (Jan. 18-24), it is down from 51% during Jan. 4-10. The weekly averages are each based on combined interviews with more than 3,500 U.S. national adults and have a margin of error of ±2 percentage points.

"President Obama continues to receive higher approval from women than from men (52% vs. 45% for the week ending Sunday, Jan. 31), but his once-significant strength with young adults has dwindled in recent weeks."

The latest week encompasses Obama's State of the Union address to Congress on Wednesday, Jan. 27. Gallup Daily tracking conducted in the three days immediately before and after the speech shows no change in public support for Obama, with his approval rating steady at 48%. This is consistent with Gallup's historical presidential approval trends, which show that State of the Union speeches are typically low-impact events with respect to public opinion. The subsequent increase in Obama's rating to 50% for the Jan. 29-31 period reflects a stronger day for Obama in Gallup polling on Sunday.

Support for Obama among Democrats on a week-by-week basis has held steady in the mid-80s during January, although with some minor shifts among segments of the Democratic Party. His approval rating dipped mid-month among liberal Democrats before rebounding a bit last week. His support increased slightly in mid-January among conservative Democrats and has held at the higher level.

Approval of President Obama Among Democrats, by Ideology: Weekly Averages, January 2010

Support for Obama is now a bit lower among moderate/liberal Republicans than it was at the start of the month (27% vs. 33%). It is also slightly lower among conservative Republicans and pure independents (those who don't lean to either party), but neither of those changes is statistically significant.

Approval of President Obama Among Republicans by Ideology, and Independents: Weekly Averages, January 2010

President Obama continues to receive higher approval from women than from men (52% vs. 45% for the week ending Sunday, Jan. 31), but his once-significant strength with young adults has dwindled in recent weeks. His approval rating among adults aged 18 to 29 is now 54%, similar to the 50% rating among those 30 to 49 but still higher than the 45% seen for both older age groups.

Obama Approval by Age, January 2009-January 2010

Bottom Line

Exactly half of Americans currently approve of the job President Obama is doing, a slight improvement over his ratings for the past week and a half. His approval rating in the first three days after the State of the Union address was 48%, identical to his pre-speech rating -- in other words, showing no speech "bounce." However, if Obama's approval rating remains at or above 50% for the next several days (it has not topped 50% in Gallup Daily tracking since Jan. 6-8), that could arguably be attributed to the extended media coverage of the speech and its political sequelae.

Survey Methods

The latest results are based on telephone interviews with 1,564 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Jan. 29-31, 2010, 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.

The latest weekly average results are based on telephone interviews with 3,560 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Jan. 25-31, 2010, 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 ±2 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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