Mike Berman’s Washington Watch

November 5, 2009 11:56 AM

President Obama

President Obama's overall job performance numbers have been relatively constant over the last several months. In addition to the surveys below, Gallup is showing 50/41% approval and CNN/OR is at 54.45%.

Obama overall job approval
February 60/26% 62/15% 68/25%
April 61/30% 66/24% 69/26%
June 56/34% 63/26% 65/31%
July 53/40% -- 58/37%
August 51/40% -- 57/40%
September 51/41% 56/33% 54/43%
October 51/42% -- 57/40%

When matched against the approval ratings of November of the first year of their initial terms in office, Obama now ranks 8th. Only Clinton had numbers lower than his. Last month he was tied for 5th/6th/7th. [Gallup surveys]

Approve Disapprove
GW Bush (II) 89 9
Kennedy  79 9
G Bush (I) 70 17
Nixon 67 19
Eisenhower 61 26
Carter 55 30
Reagan 53 35
Obama 50 41
Clinton 48 45

The WP/ABC survey in mid-October gave Obama a 50% approval rating on the economy, with disapproval being 48%, the lowest approval rating on this subject since he took office.

The NBC/WSJ survey in late October found the country about dead even on his handling of the economy, with 47% approval to 46% disapproval. This is the lowest approval and highest disapproval record in this poll on this subject since Obama took office.

As to his handling of foreign policy, the NBC/WSJ survey showed Obama with a 51% approval rating and a 39% disapproval rating. The WP/ABC shows him with an approval of 57% and disapproval of 36% on his handling of international affairs. It also rates him at 52% to 36% on handling Iran.

Here is how Obama is rated on his handling of the Federal budget deficit.

April 51/43% [WP/ABC]
June 48/48% [WP/ABC]
July 43/49% [WP/ABC]
August 41/53% [WP/ABC]
September 39/55% [WP/ABC]
October 45/51% [WP/ABC]

Personal feelings about the President remain relatively high, with little change since the middle of the year.

Positive Negative
October 2009 56% 33%
September 2009 56% 33%
July 2009  55% 34%
April 2009 64% 23%
February 2009 68% 19%
January 2009 66% 14%

When asked to rate the President on a number of personal qualities, the response to Obama is still quite strong and positive, although the strength of those ratings has dropped somewhat since the first of the year.

However, when it comes to qualities that might more accurately be described as performance qualities, rather than personal qualities, Obama is not doing nearly as well.

There has been a drop in confidence as to whether Obama will be able to meet a number of the challanges facing his Administration.

November 2008 October 2009
Heal political divisions in the country 54% 28% (-26)
Control Federal spending 52% 31% (-21)
Improve healthcare system 64% 46% (-18)
Reduce unemployment 67 51% (-16)
Increase respect for U.S. abroad 76% 60% (-16)
Bring U.S. troops home from Afghanistan in a way not harmful to U.S. 58% 46% (-12)
Bring U.S. troops home from Iraq in a way not harmful to U.S. 66% 56% (-10)
Keep U.S. safe from terrorism 62% 57% (-5)

82% of Americans still believe it is important that Obama keep his campaign promises. They are equally divided, 48%/48%, as to whether Obama has kept the promises made during his Presidential campaign. In April, by 65% to 29%, respondents thought he had been keeping his promises. [Gallup]

After his election the public was evenly divided, 45% to 43%, in its belief that Obama's policies would be slightly more moderate than liberal. Today, their view has changed. Now 54% see him as pursuing liberal policies, as opposed to 34% who say he pursues primarily moderate policies. [Gallup]

Immediately after his election, 80% thought Obama would make a "sincere effort to work with Republicans." Today 60% have that view. The number who did/do not think he would make a sincere effort has doubled from 19% to 38%. [Gallup]

While Obama's personal and performance numbers have dropped, there is still considerable support for him. When working for candidates, we learn that the last thing you want to do, because it is so hard, is to convince someone who is supporting the other candidate to be for your candidate.

You first have to get that person to consider the possibility that s/he may be wrong and get them to an "undecided" position. Then you have to convince them that they were wrong and to vote for your candidate.

During the campaign there were many people who came to believe that their aspirations could be fulfilled by voting for Obama. Now, it seems they are not yet ready to admit they might have been wrong.

Vice President Biden's favorable rating has dropped from 53% to 42% since the beginning of the Administration. His unfavorable rating has grown from 29% to 40%. [Obama's relative drop in favorable ratings during the same period was 78% to 55%.]

There has been little drop in the positive attitude of Democrats during that period (75% to 73%). As would be expected, it dropped by 16 points among Republicans (48% to 32%).

The decline among Independents has also been rather steep, 48% to 32%. [Gallup]

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