Politics

President Obama Leaves White House With 58% Favorable Rating

President Obama Leaves White House With 58% Favorable Rating
by Justin McCarthy

Story Highlights

  • Obama's latest rating one of his highest, post-"honeymoon"
  • Michelle Obama leaves White House with 68% favorability
  • Joe Biden's 61% rating is his highest yet

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Fifty-eight percent of Americans view President Barack Obama favorably as his second term nears its end. The latest figure, along with the 61% and 62% favorable ratings Obama received in the weeks after the 2016 election, is one of the president's highest marks since the "honeymoon" period during his first year in office.

Trend: President Barack Obama's Favorable Ratings

For most of Obama's time in the limelight, majorities of Americans have viewed him favorably, averaging 53% over the course of his two presidential terms.

Obama's favorable rating reached its high point of 78% as he approached his first inauguration in January 2009, and he enjoyed ratings in the 55% to 69% range during his first year in office. The outgoing president's favorability hit a low point at 42% after the 2014 midterm elections in which the GOP made significant gains in congressional and state elections across the country.

The president will leave office with a much higher favorable rating than did his immediate predecessor, George W. Bush (40%). Bill Clinton's rating (57%) was similar to Obama's, while George H.W. Bush left office in January 1993 with a slightly higher 62% favorable rating. Gallup began measuring presidential favorability using the favorable/unfavorable question format in 1992.

Michelle Obama Entered, Exits White House With 68% Favorable

First lady Michelle Obama will leave the White House with the same 68% favorable rating she had when she first moved in.

Majorities of Americans have consistently expressed a favorable view of Michelle Obama; her ratings were below 50% only in a May 2008 poll when Americans were still largely unfamiliar with her as her husband ran for president. The outgoing first lady's highest rating was 72%, two months into her husband's first term in office.

Trend: Michelle Obama's Favorable Ratings

Michelle Obama's final rating as first lady is not as high as the 76% rating Laura Bush enjoyed when she departed the White House in early 2009 but is higher than the 56% Hillary Clinton received in November 2000.

Biden Ends Term as Vice President With His Highest Favorability Yet

About six in 10 Americans (61%) have a positive view of outgoing Vice President Joe Biden -- his highest favorable rating to date. The latest rating was collected about a week before Obama awarded Biden with the Presidential Medal of Freedom with distinction, the nation's highest civilian honor.

Gallup began polling on Biden's favorability when he was a presidential candidate in 2007, when his rating was 20%. Americans at the time were largely unfamiliar with the then-senator, which is evident in the 55% who had no opinion of him in April 2007.

Biden's familiarity and his favorability ratings increased once Obama selected him as his running mate in August 2008, and his favorable score reached 59% after the 2008 election. Since Biden took office, however, Americans have been lukewarm to him, with 38% to 49% holding a favorable view of him over most of his vice presidency. Biden's favorables have generally eclipsed his unfavorable ratings, though they were about equal or slightly negative in several measures in 2012, 2014 and 2015. Like Obama's, Biden's favorability improved sharply after last November's election, to 57%; and it has improved again in the latest poll.

Trend: Vice President Joe Biden's Favorable Ratings

Biden's current rating is higher than those Dick Cheney (37%) and Al Gore (56%) received as their vice presidencies ended.

Bottom Line

Obama will end his presidency with his personal popularity on an upswing. About six in 10 now view him favorably, and his job approval rating is in the mid-50% range.

The same can be said for Biden, who leaves the White House more favorably viewed than at any point in his White House career. This could bode well for the outgoing vice president, who has not ruled out a presidential run in 2020. Not unusually for a first lady, Michelle Obama remains the best liked of the three, with nearly seven in 10 Americans having a positive image of her.

Historical data are available in Gallup Analytics.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Jan. 4-8, 2017, with a random sample of 1,032 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, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.

Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 70% cellphone respondents and 30% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.

View survey methodology, complete question responses and trends.

Learn more about how the Gallup Poll Social Series works.


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