President Obama’s Mixed Ratings

President Obama is average in ratings. According to the American public, he’s not doing a horrible job nor is he doing a fantastic one. In comparison to other presidencies, his is relatively popular.

According to USA Today and in collaboration with Gallup, President Obama has an approval rating of 41% (nearly 600 days in office). Six percent of people polled where either undecided or had no opinion. In other words, 51% of Americans – at least those in the group polled – disapprove of President Barack Obama’s performance.

The Tea Party and increasing amounts of Republicans seize on this and declare that he’s “very unpopular.” While 51% disapproval may seem unpopular (and it is), it is important to note that most Presidents typically have fluctuating performance ratings, especially 600 days into their first terms.

During this time in Bill Clinton’s presidency, he had an approval rating of 43% and a disapproval rating of 48%.

Ronald Reagan is recognized as being one of the nation’s most popular Presidents. In December 1988, Gallup recorded his approval at 63%. However, nearly 600 days into his first term, he had a 41% approval rating and a disapproval rating of 47%. (His lowest point was 35% approval nearly 750 days into his first term).

President Gerald Ford’s approval was around 46% with disapproval at 40%.

It is too early to tell whether President Obama will have a “successful” first term…but then again, who decides what is “successful?” Popularity isn’t necessarily the mark of a good presidency. Those who adore the President (Nancy Pelosi) will see the current numbers as evidence that many Americans are accepting of his executive agenda. And, of course, those who despise him (Rush Limbaugh) and suffer from Obama Derangement Syndrome (Glenn Beck) will see them as evidence of a so-called “revolution.”

The American people are a tough crowd to please, especially when they’re in the midst of a horrible recession and increasingly polarized politics. With both sides screaming at each other – in particular the right since they’re out of power right now – it can be difficult to stay level-headed. All in all, his performance is rather average and unimpressive.

Through all the rhetoric and propaganda, it’s important to keep perspective. As the President’s numbers fluctuate, keep in mind that they will continue to do so. Only time will tell how popular or unpopular the Obama presidency will be in history.

President Barack Obama - Photo credit: AP

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