Obama Averages 47.3% Approval in Sixth Quarter

by Jeffrey M. Jones

New low for Obama ranks in bottom half of presidential sixth quarters historically

PRINCETON, NJ -- President Obama averaged 47.3% job approval during his sixth quarter in office, spanning April 20-July 19 -- his lowest quarterly average to date. Americans' approval of Obama has declined at least slightly in each quarter of his presidency.

Barack Obama's Quarterly Job Approval Averages, Quarter1 to Quarter 6 of His Presidency

The latest quarterly results are based on interviews with more than 45,000 U.S. adults as part of Gallup Daily tracking. During this period, Obama saw a high of 52% approval in his three-day rolling average in mid-May, and several times saw a new low of 44%, including in mid-July. His sixth quarter in office was a period of continuing economic difficulty in the United States and coincided with the beginning of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Obama's Sixth Quarter in Historical Perspective

The average presidential job approval rating across all presidents in Gallup's trends since Franklin Roosevelt is 54%, about seven points above Obama's sixth quarter average. Others with sixth quarter averages below the historical approval norm are Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton. Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy, Richard Nixon, and both George Bushes had sixth quarter ratings above the norm.

Prior Presidents' Sixth Quarter Average Approval Ratings, Gallup Polls, Presidents Elected to First Term From Eisenhower to Obama

Elected presidents with sub-50% approval ratings in their sixth quarters in office -- Carter, Reagan, and Clinton -- tended to see more significant midterm congressional seat losses than other presidents. This was particularly true for Reagan and Clinton, whereas the loss of 11 Democratic seats in the 1978 midterm elections under Carter was not extraordinarily high.

The prospects for a turnaround in Obama's approval rating over the next several months do not look bright, based on historical trends. Most elected presidents saw their approval ratings decline in their seventh quarters in office; only George H.W. Bush saw significant improvement, due to the rally in support for him after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in August 1990.

Change in Presidents' Sixth to Seventh Quarter Average Approval Ratings, Gallup Polls, Elected Presidents From Eisenhower to George W. Bush

Explore Obama's approval ratings in-depth and compare to past presidents in the Gallup Presidential Job Approval Center.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of Gallup Daily tracking April 20-July 19, 2010, with a random sample of 45,148 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, selected using random-digit-dial sampling.

For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±1 percentage point.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each daily sample includes a minimum quota of 150 cell phone respondents and 850 landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas among landline respondents for gender within region. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.

Samples are weighted by gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, adults in the household, cell phone-only status, cell phone-mostly status, and phone lines. Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2009 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older non-institutionalized population living in U.S. telephone households. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting and sample design.

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.

For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit http://www.gallup.com/.

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