Politics

Obama Averages 46.7% Job Approval in Ninth Quarter

by Jeffrey M. Jones

Improved from last two quarters, but still third lowest for Obama

PRINCETON, NJ -- Barack Obama averaged 46.7% job approval in his ninth quarter in office, slightly above his seventh- and eighth-quarter averages but still the third lowest of his presidency.

Barack Obama's Quarterly Job Approval Averages

Obama's ninth full quarter in office began Jan. 20 and ended April 19. The quarter finished on a down note for Obama, as he registered his lowest weekly average (43% for April 11-17) and lowest daily three-day rolling average (41% for April 12-14 and April 13-15) in Gallup Daily tracking for his presidency. But the quarter began rather positively for him, including two weeks in late January in which Obama averaged 50% approval.

Comparatively, Obama's ninth-quarter average ranks in the lower range for elected presidents, better than the averages for Ronald Reagan (38.8%) and Jimmy Carter (41.2%) and about the same as Bill Clinton's (45.7%). Richard Nixon is the other elected president with a ninth-quarter average below 50%. The other presidents were all above 60%, including the elder George Bush, who averaged 82.7% approval in the quarter that included the United States' victory in the 1991 Persian Gulf War against Iraq.

Ninth-Quarter Job Approval Averages of Elected Presidents, Gallup Polls

From a broader historical perspective, Obama's 46.7% quarterly average ranks in the 30th percentile for all presidential quarters Gallup has measured back to Harry Truman's presidency.

Tenth Quarter Could Shed Light on Obama's Re-Election Chances

Whether Obama's approval goes up or down in the 10th quarter could be a telling sign for his re-election chances. Most presidents' approval ratings went down or were flat between their 9th and 10th quarters in office.

Reagan and Clinton, both of whom had ninth-quarter averages similar to or lower than Obama's, showed significant improvement in their 10th quarter and were re-elected the following year. Carter, meanwhile, saw a sharp drop of roughly 10 points in his average approval rating during the 1979 energy crisis, and was defeated for a second term in 1980.

Changes in Job Approval Averages of Elected Presidents Between 9th and 10th Quarters, Gallup Polls

Carter's approval did spike during the Iranian hostage crisis in late 1979 and early 1980, but that positive momentum was not sustained and his approval rating fell in the year he ran for re-election.

Implications

Obama's ninth quarter started out with some of his best approval ratings of the past year but ended well below that, including a pair of 41% approval ratings in recent days. He currently stands at 42% in Gallup's latest three-day rolling average.

His 10th quarter in office may be defined by his ability to reach agreement with Republicans on raising the federal debt ceiling and agreeing on a federal budget for fiscal year 2012, as well as the price of gas, which, if it continues to rise, could lead to further erosion in his popularity.

Explore President Obama's approval ratings in depth and compare them with those of past presidents in the Gallup Presidential Job Approval Center.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of Gallup Daily tracking Jan. 20-April 19, 2011, with a random sample of 89,803 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

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 sample includes a minimum quota of 400 cell phone respondents and 600 landline respondents per 1,000 national adults, with additional minimum quotas among landline respondents for gender within region. Landline telephone numbers are chosen at random among listed telephone numbers. Cell phones numbers are selected using random digit dial methods. 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, and phone status (cell phone-only/landline only/both, cell phone mostly, and having an unlisted landline number). Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2010 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 www.gallup.com.

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