Mike Berman’s Washington Watch

April 2, 2010 11:58 PM

President Obama: Hitting His Stride

President Obama has hit his stride. As March drew to a close he has achieved a number of victories.

Healthcare legislation was passed and has now been signed into law. The student lending system has been modified substantially, resulting in additional sums being available to be lent to students.

Negotiations of a new nuclear treaty with Russia have been successfully completed. The Senate Banking Committee has cleared a financial reregulation bill for Senate floor action. It is anticipated that the Senate will act and that a conference with the House will be successfully completed.

And finally, having decided enough is enough, Obama has made 17 recess appointments of nominees to significant Executive Branch positions that had been languishing in the Senate for months because of the refusal of Republicans to cooperate.

Now the question for Obama is the extent to which he can parlay these achievements into further legislative successes. Financial reregulation legislation is likely to be enacted. Whether members of the House and Senate will be in the mood to take "hard" political votes on other issues remains to be seen. At least at the moment, it does not appear that they are excited about that prospect.

Roughly speaking, President Obama's overall job performance rating in late March is where it was in December. However, a CNN/OR survey taken just before final passage of healthcare legislation was significantly more negative, with 51% disapproving his overall job performance.

Obama overall job approval
March 2010 48/47% 49/41% 53/33%
February xxxx 46/45% 51/46%
January 2010 48/43% 50/40% 53/44%
December 47/46% 50/39% 50/46%
October 51/42% -- 57/40%
September 51/41% 56/33% 54/43%
August 51/40% -- 57/40%
July 53/40% -- 58/37%
June 56/34% 63/26% 65/31%
April 61/30% 66/24% 69/26%
February 60/26% 62/15% 68/25%

When matched against the approval ratings of the last 8 Presidents in March of the 2nd year of their initial terms in office, Obama is now 8th, just ahead of Ronald Reagan. [Based on Gallup surveys]

Approve Disapprove
GW Bush (II) 79% 17%
Kennedy  79 12
G Bush (I) 74 15
Eisenhower 66 22
Nixon 54 34
Carter 48 39
Clinton 52 41
Obama 46 46 (3/25-27)
Reagan 44 45

Personal feelings about the President remain in relatively high positive territory, but here too, the period of the healthcare debate appears to have taken its toll.

Positive Negative
March 2010 50% 38%
January 2010 52% 35%
December 2009 50% 30%
October 56% 33%
September 56% 33%
April 64% 23%
February 68% 19%
January 2009 66% 14%

As healthcare reform legislation heated up late in 2009 and the President sharply increased his attention to the issue, approval of the job he is doing on the economy went negative for the first time in his tenure.

Obama job approval / disapproval on the economy
March 2010 47/50% 45/45% 45/52%
February xxxx 42/52% 45/53%
January 2010 43/49% 46/48% 47/52%
December 2009 42/51% 47/43% 46/52%
October 47/46% 54/38% 50/48%
June 51/38% 57/35% 56/41%
February 2009 56/31% 55/24% 60/34%

In a survey taken 3-5 days after healthcare legislation was finally passed in the House and Senate, the country was split 48%-49% as to whether it approves/ disapproves how the President has handled healthcare. [WP/ABC 3/10]

53% approve of the job that Obama is doing in handling the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan. Opinion is split 35% to 33% as to how he is doing in improving America's image around the world. [NBC/WSJ 3/10]

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

March 43/52%
February 40/45%
January 2010 38/56%
December 2009 37/56%
October 45/51%
September 39/55%
August 41/53%
July 43/49%
June 48/48%
April 2009 51/43%

Attitudes about whether Obama will/or has done a good job in handling certain issues have declined over the past year. Here is the report card on three issues. [Gallup 3/10]

2009 2010
Protecting the environment 79% 52%
Improving energy policy 72% 43%
Making America prosperous 61% 38%

Michelle Obama has very much come into her own. In addition to paying special attention to military families, she is leading the Administration’s effort to come to grips with one of the country's most imporant health issues – the fatness (obesity) of children and young people. Currently, her approval rating is 78%.

Return to Home Page